What Causes Bad Behavior in Children?

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No child is an angel 100 percent of the time, but some children demonstrate bad behavior more than others. If your child seems to misbehave more than the norm, this deviance could be the result of an assortment of issues. If you want to reduce your child’s misbehavior frequency, determine what issues are at the root of this problem behavior so that you can tackle them more effectively.


Attention Seeking

For some children, misbehaving is a way to get attention. Children who feel that they aren’t given enough attention, or who require more attention than most, may turn to misbehavior to force someone to pay attention to them. In some cases, children will exhibit attention-seeking behavior at home, to steal their parents’ attention, and in others children will engage in this type of behavior in the classroom to get the teacher’s undivided attention for at least as long as it takes to write out a detention slip.

Childhood Impulsivity

While most adults have the ability to think before they act, children often lack this skill and act impulsively. Nearly all children are a little impulsive, but some, such as those with ADHD, are exceedingly impulsive. If your child doesn’t seem to know why he did something wrong, or, when queried, replies that it, “seemed like a good idea at the time,” childhood impulsivity could be the force that is propelling him toward misbehavior.

Failure to Understand Consequences

There is a consequence, positive or negative, to every action. These natural or man-made consequences lead many to make the right choice. If children do not understand these consequences, they can not benefit from them. Some children fail to realize that doing good things will result in positive consequences, while doing bad things will lead to negative ones. Even logical consequences elude some children. If your child doesn’t seem to understand the concept of consequences, you may be able to get him to behave properly more often by pointing out the presence of consequences to him.

Lack of Discipline Plan

Children are not born knowing how to behave. If children are not taught good behavior, or encouraged to behave with the presence of a discipline plan, they may be apt to misbehave. If you fail to create a discipline plan for your child, you may put him at a disadvantage when he goes to school, as he will be required to follow a set discipline plan for success in the academic setting and, if he has no experience following one, he will not be as equipped to do so.

Diagnosable Disorders

Children whose behavior is severely deviant may suffer from a diagnosable behavior-related disorder. Children who suffer from a conduct disorder may be incapable of following structured rules or suffer form mental issues that make rule following even more challenging for them. As the Mental Health Association of Westchester reports, between 1 and 4 percent of all children between the ages of 7 and 17 suffer from a disorder of this type. If you think that you child may be among their ranks, voice your concerns to your pediatrician.

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