Badly Behaved Children

Is badly behaved children a sign of bad parenting? This expert has some answers.

“If my child is poorly behaved, am I a bad parent?”

Maybe. That might sound a little harsh, but keep reading. The truth is, children’s behaviour is influenced by all kinds of things, such as temperament, stress and their ability to empathise with others. Along with all that though, comes parenting.

In my experience, when the parenting component of children’s bad behavior is analysed, there are usually two main ways in which parents contribute to the problem. The first is that they simply don’t care, and effectively neglect their kids, and the second is that the strategies they utilise to teach children how to behave are ineffective.

My hunch would be that given you not only read parenting magazines, but also write in to ask for advice, that you’re not part of the first group. Rather, like the rest of us, you sometimes use parenting strategies that are ineffective.

I always tell people to use a three-step approach when things are going wrong.

The first step is to figure out the point at which things start to go wrong, work out what the behaviour is saying and then put a plan in place to change things. Recognising where things start going haywire is important – that tells you where to act.

Next, you have to work out what the bad behavior is saying (e.g. “I’m tired”, or “I think it’s better if I make all the decisions”, or “I’m anxious”). Once you work out what the behavior is actually saying, then you can know how to respond.

Generally, once you figure out why they’re behaving in a particular way and start to reinforce good behaviour and put a meaningful consequence on bad behaviour, then things should start to come right.

Words by Nigel Latta

Guest Contributor