Handling Misbehavior in Kids 2

From our previous post on Handling Misbehavior, we established the three groups of misbehavior in kids. We also discovered that not all misbehavior should be rewarded with punishment.

In this post, we look at another type of misbehavior – misbehavior that stems out of selfishness.


In this category, a Child misbehaves simply because he is thinking only of himself and his needs. He has not set out to deliberately misbehave, he is simply not even thinking of anyone else apart from himself at that point.

An example that comes readily to mind is when a child is playing with an object that can hurt another child, for example, swinging a belt around or throwing stones. If any of these objects hits another person, it could result in serious injury. But as far as that child is concerned, he’s just playing and having fun. He has not set out to deliberately hurt anyone else.

How should such misbehavior be addressed?

This form of behavior is best handled by a Strategy I would like to call ‘The Strategy of Redirection’.

Redirect the focus of your child from what he is doing wrong to what the consequences of his actions will be like.


For instance, someone shared with me about how her husband helps her kids in this regard. He says to the kids,

“I thought you said you love your mum? I don’t think so, if you love her you won’t mess up the house and create more work for her”.

That simple statement often works like magic for them, it removes the focus of that child from ‘the fun’ he believes he’s having to the impact this behavior will have on others. If a child sees that his actions will have an impact on someone else, such a child is likely to be more careful with his actions.

Even when a child is at play with others, he should be taught to weigh the consequences of every action.


Will what I am about to do impact on someone else?

If it will, what impact will it have?

If the impact is negative, do I believe I should still proceed?

If a child has been taught to ask these questions, and he follows them for everything he wants to do, he’s better equipped to make a good decision concerning how to behave.

If a child then refuses to behave as he ought, even after being patiently taught to weigh his actions, his behavior is no longer limited to selfishness, it has become a willful kind of misbehavior. And that should be treated with another approach.

We’ll treat this in the Next Post…

All the Best,

Oluseye Ashiru

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