Types of Misbehavior in Children

Written by angela hallack
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Types of Misbehavior in Children
Children's misbehavior can frustrate parents. (Bad hair day image by Andrew Breeden from Fotolia.com)

Just as no two children are exactly alike, no two children behave exactly alike. In order to identify different types of misbehavior in children, it is important to determine the underlying reason for the behaviours. Every behaviour, positive or negative, brings about some result or consequence that reinforces the behaviour and ensures that it reoccurs. According to Barbara Beccari, M.Ed., of NeedtoConnect.com, the four most common types of misbehavior in children are attention, power, insecurity, and revenge-seeking behaviours.

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Attention-Seeking Behaviors

Attention seeking behaviours include behaviours that result in attention from others, including negative attention such as being punished or ridiculed. Examples of attention-seeking behaviours are whining, being silly, or interrupting others. If a behaviour results in feelings of annoyance in others, it is likely an attention-seeking behaviour, according to kidsgrowth.com. Giving a child plenty of attention for positive behaviour is the best antidote to attention-seeking misbehavior.

Children often whine when they need attention.
Children often whine when they need attention. (unhappy girl in red image by Olga Sapegina from Fotolia.com)

Power-Seeking Behaviors

Power-seeking behaviours are a child's way of seeking some control over his circumstances. Examples include debating or arguing, refusal to follow instructions, or tantrums. Attempts at strict rule enforcement will likely result in more defiant behaviours. An effective strategy for dealing with power-seeking behaviours is to offer choices rather than demands.

A tantrum is often a child's attempt to gain control.
A tantrum is often a child's attempt to gain control. (bad loser image by feisty from Fotolia.com)

Confidence-Seeking Behaviors

A child who lacks confidence in his abilities may be described as lazy, unmotivated, sloppy, or forgetful, but these children are saying, "I can't do it." This type of behaviour often results in feelings of frustration for others. Parents often reinforce these behaviours by doing the tasks for the child, rather than encouraging independence. Providing step-by-step instruction for tasks, along with plenty of positive feedback when each step is accomplished, is a helpful method to correct this type of behaviour.

Types of Misbehavior in Children
Children who lack confidence often procrastinate. (child reading image by Ryan Shapiro from Fotolia.com)

Revenge-Seeking Behaviors

Revenge-seeking behaviours include bullying, vandalism or aggression against younger or weaker children. Children exhibiting these behaviours are communicating that they feel unaccepted and a need to get even. They have usually failed to get their needs met through any of the previous types of misbehavior. They are seeking emotional responses from others, so responding in a controlled and consistent manner is most effective. Indicate the rule they have violated, the consequences of breaking that rule, and then follow through with administering the consequences is essential. Finally, providing positive feedback for positive behaviour will help ensure that those behaviours increase.

Bullies need clear, consistent rules and consequences.
Bullies need clear, consistent rules and consequences. (fighting girls image by Vasiliy Koval from Fotolia.com)

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