Hi moms! Thanks for joining me today.
Before we begin, I wanted to give a shout out to my friend Adam Schwarz. He recently interviewed me for his YouTube channel. He does a segment on his vlog that’s called “What’s good in Riverside”, which is the city that I live in, and it was just such a fun interview. So if you would like to go watch that, I will leave the link in my notes here for this episode. And I would really love to hear from you and I would love to hear what you think about the interview and these podcasts I do, so please go follow me on Instagram or Facebook: The Mommy Whisper, and I would really love to hear from all of you.
Also, I’m going to start sharing a review each week that my listeners have left for me on iTunes, or it’s also Apple podcasts, so if you would like your review to be featured on my podcast, please go rate me and leave me a review. It really helps so much, with this rather new podcast, to help others to find me and start listening and hopefully get inspired and feel supported on their motherhood journey, also.
So this is a part 2 of last week’s episode where we talked about really trying to be conscious of not subconsciously labeling our child. And also understanding that their misbehaviors are most of the time simply asking, “Do you love me?” So really concentrating on filling their love cup first and foremost.
Parents who understand their child’s behaviors and misbehaviors are in a much better position to influence their children. It is, of course, overwhelming and frustrating when a child displays challenging behaviors. But understanding a child’s misbehavior or I should say understanding the Why behind a child’s misbehavior goes hand-in-hand with my 3 C’s of Successful Parenting Method, and also the episode I did on Showing an Increase of Love, along with this understanding why your child misbehaves…these three tools together will help you solve almost every behavior dilemma that you are dealing with, no matter what the age of your child.
I also had talked last week that some people believe behavior is a result of heredity, or nature, and others believe it is environmental influences, or nurture, or certain ages and just stages that kids go through. But I actually am going to teach you that all behavior actually occurs for a social purpose. Recognizing this is half the battle. We, as humans, are decision making social beings whose main goal in life is to belong. Each of us ultimately wants to find and maintain a place of significance in our lives. We try to find beliefs and feelings and behaviors that we think might help us gain some significance, or some belonging.
So today I want to talk about the four main reasons for misbehavior. Misbehaving children are discouraged for reasons that we have to figure out as their mom. They do not believe they can belong in useful ways, so they try to belong through their misbehaviors.
So these 4 desires, or purposes, behind a child’s misbehavior…these are the same main desires for teenagers and adults, even though the older a person gets there are additional purposes that influence their misbehavior, but we won’t get into that right now.
So the first one is attention. This desire is strong and it is actually almost universal for most young children. They would like best to get attention in useful ways, but if they can’t get it that way they try to get it in inappropriate ways. Children who think they can belong only if they are receiving attention would prefer negative attention over not having any at all, and just being ignored.
And you might think it’s easy to recognize this plea for attention, but it’s not always. Your child is asking for attention when he’s making you sit with him or he won’t get his work done, or she might be begging you to help her get dressed even though she really can on her own, she’s just crying and crying as if she really can’t do it. And of course there’s the temper tantrums. If they are not finding the attention in positive ways, they will get it however they need to get it. If your child is overreacting a lot, maybe goes straight to tears for things that you don’t think are necessarily worthy of tears, oh and the begging, the endless begging.
And another negative plea for attention is if your child lies a lot, or over dramatizes stories. It might not seem that they are doing this for attention, but that indeed is an attention-getter.
It’s the attention wanting that might cause you to feel exhausted, annoyed, feeling that you’re spending endless amounts of time and energy, and maybe even causing you to feel resentful and helpless. Those are the behaviors that their main purpose is attention.
Let’s move onto reason number two: power. Power, or control-seeking children feel they are significant only when they are the boss. They try to get away with only doing what they want. When a child lacks a sense of personal power or significance, they will seek out control over their environment, or you. They think, “no one can force me to do anything”, or “you better do what I want.”
This is a tough one because even if parents succeed in winning the battle over their child, the victory is only temporary. You might win the argument, but your relationship with your child will suffer. I’m not saying don’t have boundaries and be firm and make sure that they are adhering to the rules, I’m saying if it becomes a power struggle don’t engage in the power struggle at all.
You will recognize if your child’s misbehavior is because he desires power by things like he ignores a direct instruction, maybe completes tasks only halfway, pushing the limit like being told to stop and they do it just one more time, maybe refusing to eat dinner at dinnertime, or lashing out in anger, or even being overly sad when reprimanded. This one is very common, I’m noticing. You might not think it’s a power move, but has your child ever overreacted when they’ve gotten in trouble? Like, just broken down in tears and sobbing because they hate to be in trouble? Well, what does that do for you? It makes you not want to get so mad at them the next time. You might walk on eggshells a little bit when asking them to do something; you might treat them a little bit softer and not ask so much of them because you’re trying to avoid a complete come apart that they’re going to have.
Well that is a control move on their part and if this power struggle continues and the child feels he cannot defeat his parents, he might decide to turn to the third desire of misbehavior which is revenge. Children who pursue this desire of revenge are actually convinced that they are not loveable. They feel that they are significant and find belonging only when they are able to hurt others as they believe they have been hurt. They find their place of belonging is to be cruel to those around them and disliked.
I’ve been watching Stranger Things lately with my teenagers. I had no interest in it, I watched five minutes of it once and I said never again. But they finally talked my husband and I into it and it’s actually been really fun. I kind of actually like that show.
Anyway, this revenge and this place of belonging by being cruel and disliked it reminds me of Billy in that show. He can’t find anywhere that he belongs, and you can tell that he’s probably really lonely. He’s been on the losing end of battles with his dad, so he decides he will just be the mean bully kid.
This place of revenge that some kids get to shows how truly discouraged they are. If you are at this place with your child or teenager, please get help. It can be reversed. The behaviors can get better, but not without a significant amount of parenting tools.
You will recognize if your child is in this revenge stage because they say hurtful things to you like, “You like so-and-so better than me” (maybe another sibling), or “I hate you.” Although if they just say this once or twice I wouldn’t be too worried; if they’re always saying things like this they’re kind of giving you a glimpse into the struggle that they’re having internally. They’re just not sure if you love them.
They’re also in revenge if they’re ruining something that belongs to you or another authority figure, even if they say it was on accident. If they are hurting younger siblings, if they have an overall kind of mean-spiritedness, and are really unappreciative of the things you are trying to do for them. Remember, they’re in revenge if they are trying to hurt others the way they hurt.
And the fourth and final desire of misbehavior is a display of inadequacy. These children who get to this point, where they are showing inadequacy or an inability to do certain things, a disability if you will, they are extremely discouraged. They have given up hope of succeeding and they try to keep others from expecting anything of them. They may have given up in many or all areas of their life or maybe only in areas where they feel that really can’t succeed. They lack confidence in themselves and in their worth or their abilities. You know your child has gotten to this stage if they refuse to try new things at all, they give up really easily, they put themselves down, they have poor school performance, and they just overall lack confidence.
Although these four desires of misbehavior have been presented in kind of a progression from one to the next, which they usually do follow that sequence, they get worse and worse and worse, this doesn’t mean that they will always follow this course. An attention-seeking child who isn’t getting the attention she feels she needs in order to belong, might go directly to displaying inadequacy.
Remember, all misbehavior stems from discouragement. Basically, a child doesn’t misbehave unless he feels a real or threatened loss of his status. Whatever goal misbehavior serves, it is done with the belief that this is the only way he will have a place in the group, or the family.
If you sense that your child’s misbehaviors fall into one of these categories, which they most likely will, but you’re not sure what it might be, we can really figure it out by observing the results that your child is getting. Once we discover their goal of their misbehavior, we are then in a position to begin redirecting the child.
Don’t be nervous to hop on a phone call with me. You get me for a free 30 minutes and we can figure out a lot about your child in 30 minutes. And I will be able to give you a few tools that will really help make a difference in your family.
Remember, a misbehaving child is a discouraged child. But you, as their parent, have the power to turn it all around. If you’re not sure how, please come talk to me,
Thanks so much for listening, and I’ll talk if you next week!