Understanding the Root of Your Child’s Misbehavior

Why do kids behave poorly?

According to Dr. Kevin Leman, there are four goals of misbehavior:

  1. Attention. “I only count when others notice me and serve me.”
  2. Power. “I only count when others do what I want them to do when I want them to do it.”
  3. Revenge. “I only count when I hurt others like I’ve been hurt.”
  4. Display of inadequacy. “I’m no good. I’m worth nothing. I can’t do anything right, so why try at all?”

Once you understand why your child misbehaves, the next important question is: what do you do about it?

First, listen and be supportive. Overlook your child’s misbehavior long enough to let them know that you love them. Ask what they’re feeling … then listen. Children want to know someone cares about them, not just their behavior.

Second, as much as possible, allow your child to experience the consequences of their poor choices. Don’t rescue them from bad decisions too early or too often. Hold them accountable by allowing reality to be their teacher.

Dr. Leman says that effective discipline is about balancing both love and consequences. Children thrive when their parents shower them with affirmation while expecting them to take responsibility for themselves.

Dr. Leman had so much more to share that I asked him to join me on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly to talk about uncovering the root cause of your child’s whining, backtalking, and tantrums. He also shared how to offer your child love and acceptance without coddling.

Listen to our full conversation on your local radio station, online, on Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or listen on our free phone app.

While you’re online, I encourage you to take our free parenting assessment. It will quickly give you an overview of how your family is doing in several key areas as well as offer suggestions on how you can improve relationships in your home.

Before I close, I’d like to extend an invitation for you to become a special partner with us through our monthly “Friends of Focus on the Family” program. When you do, I’ll send you a copy of Dr. Leman’s book Why Your Kids MisbehaveAnd What to Do About It as a way of saying thank you for touching others with the love of Christ. You’ll also receive member-exclusive benefits. To make your pledge, or for more information, click here or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

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