By: Sis. Sally Lopez
NEU SPED Learning Support Specialist
Children manifest misbehaviors. These are behaviors that may seem inappropriate or unacceptable like throwing a tantrum, crying excessively, or whining. Some may deem these behaviors as problems and may cause stress to families. But these problem behaviors can be prevented if adults understand why children misbehave. Misbehaviors can also tell a lot about a child’s development. That is why family members and other adults caring for children need to know how to analyze behaviors in order to plan strategies to address them accordingly.
Why do children misbehave?
● A child may be too young to understand the rules that you set.
● A child may be having difficulty expressing or saying their emotions (feeling upset or angry),
needs (hungry, sleepy, tired), wants, and what they think.
● A child may be seeking attention.
● A child may be having too much screen time which leads to disrupted sleep, affects mood, and
gets influenced by misbehaviors seen in videos.
● A child may be wanting independence and trying to assert himself.
What can families do?
● Know your child really well. Observe when misbehaviors happen and identify triggers. Plan
strategies or actions based on your observations.
● Anticipate situations when a child will misbehave and create rules or activities that will help the
child perform positive behaviors instead of misbehaving.
● Make rules, routine, and set expectations that are appropriate to the child’s age and developmental level.
● Make a schedule of varied activities to include play, movements, art, and music to regulate screen time.
● Stay calm and be patient. Remember that kids mirror the feelings of adults. When adults are
frustrated, so is the child.
● Model positive behavior to kids. Remember that kids learn through imitation.
● Avoid screaming at a child as this may lead a child to have a low self-esteem. Instead use a firm
but kind voice and focus on the skill expected of the child.
● Use planned ignoring especially when the child is seeking attention or avoiding to perform
● Give the child a sense of belonging. Upon arriving from a long day at work, it is best to keep that
gadget away and do tasks with the child.
● Frustrations towards misbehaviors will happen and if they do, separate yourself physically from
the child. Have a breather and allow the child to cry it out. Talk to one another when both are
● Acknowledge that children sometimes just have a “bad day” just like adults.
● Use positive language and be specific with the praises given to a child.
● Immediately praise good behaviors. Reward but always make sure that this is equal to the
intensity of the behavior being reinforced and don’t “over-reward.”
Teaching children proper behaviors require love and care. When adults are observant and are able to understand why a misbehavior happens and not just focus on what the child did, this will in turn, help the child learn the Christian values and life skills that he needs to become a better person. Children who are provided a safe environment where he is allowed to learn from experiences will also make him a strong and resilient adult.
Klein, M., Cook, R., and Richardson-Gibbs, A. (2001). Strategies for including children with special needs in early childhood settings. NY, USA: Delamar Thompson Learning.
Pratt, C. (2020). Applied Behavior Analysis: The Role of Task Analysis and Chaining by Cathy Pratt. Retrieved from https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca/articles/applied-behavior-analysis.html
Shanker, S. (2016). Five Ways to Help Misbehaving Kids. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/five_ways_to_help_misbehaving_kids.