Positive Parenting: Looking Behind the Curtain of Your Child’s (Mis)behavior

Do you struggle with your child around mealtime? Bedtime? Do you find yourself getting frustrated to the point of yelling or raising your voice? It’s never too late to implement positive parenting strategies to ease stress in the family system and decrease instances of your child’s misbehavior.

Also referred to as gentle guidance or loving guidance, Positive Parenting is a belief that guides children, builds character, fosters independence in a way that support them to resist temptations to be misbehave.  

As parents, we need to understand the WHY behind a child’s behavior. By looking beyond the behavior to the reasons why the child is misbehaving allows us to better understand what is going on with our kids.

Children misbehave to meet their hardwired needs for for belonging (emotional connection within family system) and need for a sense of significance (sense of autonomy, independence and capability). We all want to feel that we have control over our own lives and that we matter. Children are no different!

When children’s need for belonging and significance aren’t met in positive ways, they will resort to negative means to get it.

Maybe your child’s behavior is telling you “Mum, Dad, I really need some one-on-one attention for you when you’re not on your phone, or making dinner” or “when you do things for me, when you take my control away, when you do things for me that I can do myself, when you bark orders at me and tell me what to, I feel powerless and insignificant, it makes me want to push your buttons because then at least then, I have some power.”

Generally, children misbehave for the following reasons:

  1. They want to test whether caregivers will enforce rules.

  2. They experience different sets of expectations between school, home with co-parents.

  3. They do not understand what is expected of them or are held to expectations that are beyond their developmental levels.

  4. They want to assert themselves and their independence.

  5. They feel sick, bored, hungry or tired.

  6. They are working through something they have no experienced before (emotions or situations).

  7. They have been previously “rewarded” for their misbehavior with adult attention (negative or positive, attention is attention).

  8. They are modeling the actions of their parents or other meaningful adults in their lives.