What Are the Causes of Bad Behavior in a Child?

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Bad behavior is an unfortunate part of childhood. No matter how well-mannered your child usually may be, he will almost certainly exhibit periods of less-than-perfect behavior. Different causes could be at the root of your child’s episodes of misbehavior. By determining the likely cause of your child’s acting up, you can more effectively reduce the number of bad behavior episodes.


Attention Seeking

For some children, misbehavior is a way to get attention. Many children act out because they don’t feel that they are getting enough attention, and they subconsciously decide that negative attention is better than no attention at all. If your child’s bad behavior seems to crop up when you have your hands full and attention is turned away from him, he could be seeking attention.

Lack of Consequences

Adults generally understand that every action has a consequence, but children, inexperienced in the ways of the world, don’t yet understand this concept. If children do not see that their bad behavior has a consequence, either natural or parent-selected, they will see no reason to behave.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder

For some children, misbehaving is a result of a disorder that prevents them from following directions. Between 1 and 6 percent of all children suffer from this disorder, reports the Mental Health Association of Westchester, N.Y. Children who suffer from Opposition Defiance Disorder demonstrate a tendency toward defiance, often for no known reason. These children are also more prone to tantrums and commonly fail to take responsibility for their actions. If your child seems to subvert authority almost constantly, mention your concerns to your doctor who can assess him for this disorder.

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder could also be at the root of your child’s misbehavior. Children who suffer from conduct disorder engage in inappropriate or illegal behavior with regularity. These children may engage in stealing, bullying, destructive behaviors or aggressive behaviors. Between 1 and 4 percent of children between the ages of 7 and 17 have this disorder, reports the Mental Health Association of Westchester. As a result, they have an increasingly difficult time avoiding bad behavior.

Bad Behavior Remedies

Putting an end to or reducing your child’s bad behavior can be accomplished. Look for bad behavior triggers. Once you identify these triggers, try to avoid them. Also, present your child with consequences and consistently enforce them. By doing so, you can help your child realize that his actions do have consequences and encourage him to make wiser choices. If your child continues to misbehave with regularity, or the severity of his misbehavior increases, have him assessed for a behavioral disability.

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