Handling Misbehavior in Kids 3

This is the last in our series on Handling Misbehavior in Kids.

In our two previous posts, we have been able to consider the first two in the three categories:

This post will address the issue of Willful/Deliberate Misbehavior.

How is Willful Misbehavior different from the initial two?

As this category implies, Willful Misbehavior is a Deliberate, Conscious Choice by a child to misbehave or disobey a laid down rule or guideline. It is not a mistake or an error on the part of that child, it is intentional.

For instance, if your child accidentally knocks down your favorite vase, as painful as that may be for you, it’s not likely that your child willfully did that, it’s likely to be an accident. But, if you tell your child not to drop the vase, and that child stares you in the face and deliberately smashes it, then that definitely is willful and defiant behavior.


We have learnt that misbehavior that is not willful or deliberate should not be rewarded with punishment. In the case of Willful disobedience, parents should never let such defiant misbehavior slide.

“Willful Misbehavior is a Deliberate, Conscious Choice by a child to misbehave or disobey a laid down rule or guideline…”

How should it be handled?

  • Willful Disobedience should be rewarded with a consequence. Never let an act of willful disobedience pass. If you do, you’re only reinforcing the child’s actions. Let your child know that for every action, there is a consequence.
  • Willful Disobedience should be handled immediately. It is easier for a child to connect the consequence of his actions with the misbehavior if the reward is quick and immediate. Leaving it till later will not help the child to feel that consequence as it’s meant to be felt. Deal with it now. Consequences are not limited to spanking only, withdrawal of benefits such as TV/Game/Computer Time, writing lines about disobedience, can be equally effective, and sometimes even more so.


  • The initial instruction should still be carried out. For instance, if a child is asked to pick up an item to be placed in the right location, and he is defiant about the instruction, after he has been disciplined for his disobedience, he should still get to put the item away nicely.
  • Don’t assign consequences when you’re angry or when the misbehavior is taking place. When you discipline your child in anger, you’re likely to overdo it, and then you won’t be able to stick to the punishment you have laid out. If the consequences for willful disobedience have already been discussed with your children ahead, in a calm atmosphere, you’re likely to have thought the consequence through. Never make decisions in anger.

“Never make decisions in anger…”

In handling misbehavior in kids, never leave them with doubt that you love them and care about them. For instance, if you discipline your kids, and they have carried out the punishment you assigned, don’t keep giving them the silent treatment. Always leave your children with the knowledge that the discipline is for their own good, even if they don’t understand the fact at the time of the discipline, as they grow older, they will come to find comfort in that fact.


“Never leave them with doubt that you love them and care about them”

The essence of correcting our kids is to make sure that they grow into responsible people, obeying the rules and regulations of society.

Let that always be the focus.

Oluseye Ashiru

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