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November 16, 2015 / Gul Malani

Handling misbehaviour

Messy Girl Painter ID-100282557 (5) 061115

How many of us will feel that this girl has misbehaved? There will be quite a few!! She has her face, neck, hands and clothes messed up and that can be considered as bad behaviour by many of us!

But, look at her face, eyes and her smile to feel her spirit which is very positive and joyous! Good parenting is when we do not judge the child’s act or the results. Instead, parents feel and respect the child’s spirit! This will help the child to grow up to be a strong person! Admonishing her, for what she has done happily, will break her spirit and make her a weak adult!

Last week my two and a half year old granddaughter and my eight year old grandson were singing on the Karaoke mics. Grandson is good and he sings english songs that he knows well and my granddaughter was singing nursery rhymes using the microphone but without any music as nursery rhymes are not yet available on our karaoke system.

Soon after finishing her Nursery Rhyme she quickly and happily threw the mic on the floor. The battery cover and the batteries flew out! I reacted to her act and tried to explain that the mic is not for throwing as it is very sensitive device and may stop working, so she should not throw it. She nodded, and she took the reassembled mic and started singing once again. A few minutes later she again flung the mic on to the floor. This time I was firm with her and reminded her that she was told not to throw the mic. As she did throw the mic again, she will not be given the mic for the rest of the day. With a long face she went and complained to her mother who was busy on the phone. Grandma noticed her sadness but did not know why, so she sent her back to me with my eldest son, her uncle to resolve the matter and bring back her cheer!

Three days later, I was lovingly washing and cleaning her hands and arms covered with paint as a result of her painting activity that she often loves to indulge in! She softly whispers to me ‘Dada (grandpa) I will not throw the mic again’. I was overwhelmed that she remembered and had suffered so long in silence. I gave her a big hug and reassured her of my unconditional love for her confirming that I will continue to love her even if she throws the mic again! I did explain, lovingly to her again, that the mic will get damaged if she throws it and we all will not be able to use it!

I learnt many things from my granddaughter that day! I had reacted, judged the act rather than felt and seen her spirit! She was happily experiencing throwing of the mic and to learn as to what happens. I learnt adult values of doing no damage or suffering no loss have no value or significance to the child as yet! I learnt children suffer silently when harsh words are spoken by parents and adults, who they love intensely and without any conditions!

So, how should I have handled the situation? Firstly, do not react. Give a big hug to the child when she/he does something that would be classified as bad behaviour by adults to reassure the child that we love her/him unconditionally despite her/his improper behaviour. Then if the child is calm, we can explain the consequences of the specific undesirable behaviour to the child. Having done this please be prepared for the bad behaviour to happen again! It will take time for the child to understand and change it’s behaviour! Parents need to be extremely patient! Know that even we parents cannot change easily and we keep making the same mistakes often!

Children as well as parents are not perfect, so we should not expect correct and perfect behaviour all the time. Mistakes are bound to be made by both, children as well as parents. We have to learn to forgive our children as well as our own selves when we make mistakes unconsciously or even when we do the right thing consciously but turns out to be a mistake later on!

Children’s misbehaviour, as defined and determined by us parents, should be ignored for reaction or commentary specially if it is infrequent. Whereas good behaviour should be complimented upon, as often as the parents can. It strengthens and reinforces the child to behave properly most of the time and grow into a strong adult.

Frequent misbehaviour generally has a cause behind it. All children are very intelligent but they are not yet capable of expressing themselves in ways that we adults can understand them. So, they may resort to misbehaviour as a means of communication. Parents should try to identify the cause of misbehaviour by trying to understand what the child is wanting to convey! At times this may require having a peaceful and open minded dialogue with the child.

Some of the causes of poor or bad behaviour can be:

a. child is feeling neglected as parents are not available or they are not willing to spend the time to listen and understand the child

b. child needs or wants something and it is being denied without an adequate explanation.

c. parents are putting unnecessary pressure on the child to participate, compete and excel or being presurised to eat more than it wants to or what it does not like

d. child could be wacky hungry, sleepy or unwell. Our eight year old grandson says wacky hungry is more than being very hungry and then he does become unreasonable in demanding rapid and specific food service!

e. parents are commenting and correcting just about everything the child is doing

f. parents are admonishing the child in public

g. punishment is being used as a tool to correct behaviour. Punishment does not help, it only reduces the self esteem of the child and the child may start to retaliate!

Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish state in their book ‘How to talk….’ – It is our conviction that the child who is misbehaving does not need to be banished from the members of his family, even temporarily ( called Time Out). …… What Billy (child) needs is not time out but private time with a caring adult who will help him deal with his feelings and figure out better ways to handle them. 

Children’s behaviour, intelligence and capabilities are a product of parental up bringing. It is therefore necessary for parents to be conscious of themselves first, for them to bring up happy, well behaved, confident, intelligent, capable and strong adults! We suggest parents, as well as parents to be, to visit, read and assimilate our blog or other similar publications and books.This will improve their awareness and consciousness and help them in increasing their whole family’s harmony, happiness, health, as well as success!

We must never intentionally make a child feel bad, guilty, or ashamed in order to get him to be good….It is also too risky for the child to continue to want to be good for a parent or teacher who lacks faith in her intention to be good and thinks, therefore, that she, the child, must be tempted with bribes or threatened with sanctions. It’s a vicious circle. External motivators for behaviour such as rewards and punishments may destroy the precious internal motivation to be good, making leverage by such artificial means necessary by default. As an investment in easy parenting, trusting in a child’s desire to be good for us is one of the best…..If the desire to be good for us is not treasured and nurtured, the child will lose his motivation to keep trying to measure up. It is children’s desire to be good for us that warrants our trust, not their ability to perform to our expectations. – Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., and Gabor Maté, M.D. in their book ‘Hold On to Your Kids’  221117

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