Handling Misbehavior In Kids 1


Typically, parents often believe that once a child misbehaves, that child deserves to be punished, period!

But, should every misbehavior of a child be followed by punishment?

There are three basic categories of child misbehavior:


This post will address The Misbehavior borne out of ignorance and the other two will be addressed in later posts.

Oftentimes, especially with younger children, we see situations where a child does something because he/she doesn’t know better. For instance, when your toddler soaks all your freshly laundered clothes in the bath tubĀ  – Oh My!

Even though you scold that child because they have just caused you an enormous amount of work, you know deep down that your toddler couldn’t have made a better decision – they simply didn’t know better.


How Do You Handle This group of misbehavior?

  • Handle this with Patience. Easier said than done, huh? When you stare at the amount of mess that you need to clean up, you may just have reached the limit of your patience. For instance, my toddler [20-month old] loves to get water from the water dispenser and just pour on the carpet. I must admit that it could be quite frustrating, but I have repeatedly tried to be patient with her – realizing that she just thinks it’s fun to pour water out of her cup. I could get impatient too sometimes, but, Mom, please be patient.


  • Instruct the Child’s Ignorance. If a child simply doesn’t know, then she doesn’t know. If instructions are not given in that regard, the child may keep repeating that action till he knows better. If you want a certain behavior to stop, you may need to specifically target that behavior, and keep reinforcing the instructions till your child learns better.


If after you have done the above, you notice a certain persistence in the same kind of misbehavior, you may need to discuss some underlying issues surrounding the misbehavior. Also, watch out for when that misbehavior is usually repeated, it may be as a result of tiredness, hunger, boredom or feeling of neglect.

It’s important that we are sensitive to the needs of our children. Not every misbehavior deserves to be punished.

Oluseye Ashiru

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