First steps to changing your child’s behavior: 5 reasons for bad behavior in a child

You, the parent, are the most powerful image in a child’s life usually. This holds true for most children under 10 years of age and mostly beyond. The child would look to you for strength, reassurance, and guidance as she navigates the maze called the world.


She would look for and call you after a nightmare, or with another failed attempt at riding without training wheels. My daughter would call for help with her homework especially if it is……homework.

However, just like most parents, we do experience the bad behavior thing. Those undesirable acts that suggest some failure somewhere. Our usual instinct is to blame ourselves first. Some parents blame their own genetics makeup while others blame their spouse’s past actions and attitudes towards child-rearing. Some come to the pediatrician for a diagnosis of a behavioral disorder.

The news (good or bad, you be the judge)is, according to Alex Lickerman M.D. author of The Undefeated Mind, raising children is hard work. All the way. From birth till your job is done. And every step of the way, we are trying to hone the child’s “being human” skills. More often than not we have no experience and have not been schooled in the skills of raising a child formally. Little surprise the frustration that we often experience.

These are 5 reasons why a child may behave badly

1.It has worked in the past.

Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.

Warren Buffet

Children, just like the older versions, adults, are creatures of habit. They tend to repeat what works. That behavior that worked for them in the past is often repeated over and over. In some instances, it has to fail many times before they abandon that behavior. So when you notice a behavior in your child, examine the circumstances to see whether the behavior has worked previously. If it has, then you may expect it to “not work” multiple times over before the child will drop that habit or behavior.

2.The rules are not explicit/clear enough.

I follow three rules: Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.

Lou Holtz

As adults, we have been through much more in life and know a lot of things. One that usually stands out is a substitution. For me, it shows when I read to my children. I would unwittingly substitute an occasional word for another and my older daughter would call me out especially if she is reading along. I never knew this was happening until she started pointing them out. May adults have this blind spot when it comes to outlining rules for their children. This confuses children. They want clear rules, not condition-based action. The next time you get that “very wrong” behavior, determine whether the rules were very clear and were not vague.

3.UTHA: Upset, Tired, Hungry or Angry and seeking attention.

A hungry woman is an angry man

Ikechukwu Okereke

Children may act in a very unwelcome way when they are in any of these states. A child may be hungry and act it out. Yes, I know you expect her to say she is hungry, or angry or tired. Unfortunately, they are not little adults. They may not say so besides those are hard words to say for a very young one. If, say throwing a tantrum or acting out or screaming gets them what they want, they will do it.

Pushing it.

I tell them the rules are made by the government. Every firm should comply. It doesn’t mean they can’t compete.

Ma Jun

Every child sometimes wants to push the boundaries a little. They would test the rules to see whether the enforcement was effective. If grandma let her do it (or Daddy….I am guilty as charged), they will shout hurray and repeat it irrespective of any previously established rules. My girls play this card with bedtime and they do win sometimes.

Experimenting and curiosity.

If I see one side of somebody, I want to see the other side.

Kurt Russell

My younger daughter once dropped a raw egg just to see what it was like inside. She told me a few years later when she could better articulate her words that she was just curious. She said she had enjoyed omelets made from this oval and was not tall enough to see how it looked before the omelets. Thus she decided to crack one and see. Yes, she saw and was content.

In a nutshell, before you come running to the office or hook up for an evisit, make sure you have explored these common reasons why your child is misbehaving. It may just be perspective. You do have the answers most times. I will be happy to see you though….after you have explored within.

Visit Omega Pediatrics’ Linkedin page. Also, see our Roswell Pediatrician’s Facebook Page and the Roswell Pediatrician’s Twitter page.

Author: nwaneri2016

God-fearing pediatrician, technology enthusiast, obesity specialist, inventor and entrepreneur.

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