Managing Misbehavior while we shelter in place

toddler with red adidas sweat shirt
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on

Have you ever thought that you are making your child misbehave worse? Sometimes we as parents need to learn to behave so our children will behave too.

We must confess that our children are watching our every moment. Haven’t you heard your child say something and you know that came from your mouth? We have to smile and admit it.

So, they are hearing what we say and seeing how we act. We have to analyze our own behavior and ask ourselves, “Is this the way I’d want my child to act?

We have to be honest with ourselves. Remember the things we say cannot be retrieved. It is too late to take it back.

With that being said let’s look at a few reasons children misbehave. Rudolf Dreikurs, a prominent psychiatrist, classified children’s misbehavior into four broad categories. Dreikurs called these categories “goals” in the sense that the behavior achieved something for the child. We have to train ourselves to look at the results of the misbehavior rather than just the behavior. In other words the results of the behavior reveal its purpose.

To discover the purpose of a child’s misbehavior two simple techniques are used.

  1. Observe your own reaction to the child’s misbehavior. Your feelings point to the child’s goals
  2. Observe the child’s response to your attempts at correction. The child’s response to your behavior will also let you know what the child is after.

Let’s consider Dreikurs’ four goals of misbehavior.

  1. Attention – the desire for attention is universal. In my book: Children are Gifts: A Parent’s guide to raising gifted, confident, happy Children, I explain that children equate love and attention. Children may prefer negative attention to being ignored. So, the appropriate way to give attention is to give it when it is not expected. When a child feels they belong and are included, needed, and loved we stop reinforcing misbehavior.
  2. Power – children who seek power feel they are significant when they are the boss or in control. If we as parents get angry and feel our authority is being threatened, the situation gets worse. Our goal is to appeal to the child’s help and enlist cooperation. In my book mentioned above you will find information on how to be successful when dealing with children that have a need to be in control.
  3. Revenge – these children feel they are not loved. They feel hurt and want to hurt others. This revengeful behavior stems from discouragement. Parents can feel deeply hurt and want to retaliate. It may be difficult but we must remain calm or the war of revenge continues and may go to the next goal.
  4. Display of inadequacy – The child feels extremely discouraged and give up any hope of succeeding. Parents will know that a child is pursuing this goal if they, too, feels despair and want to give up.

If you are at a point of despair and feel you are sheltered in place and can’t get help, remember I am here to help you along your parenting journey.Get my book! Contact me at 240-472-8055, or My husband is certified to coach you and bring peace back in your home. Contact him at 240-401-8325. Go to

We want to help you manage misbehavior while sheltered in place!






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