Friday, January 20, 2012

Four Types of Misbehavior

Amy misses the bus about once a week and then calls home for a ride, Suzie throws a tantrum every time she does not get her way, Billy tricks his little brother into breaking rules and watches while he gets in trouble, Colin regularly leaves his coat on the floor and his back pack on the table.  It can be overwhelming to discern what the real issue is and how to address it.  What consequences will motivate these children to change their behavior?  Is it the same “time out” for every situation or are there specific methods that are appropriate for specific behaviors?

Passionate Legacy Principle #6: Have a plan for discipline.  Learn what consequences should be applied to which behaviors, so that when the situation arises you are prepared to act decisively.

The following categories and descriptions are from Taking Charge by Joanne Nordling (SYBYL Publications, 1999).


Children who are misbehaving by not minding do not follow reasonable directions the first time they are asked. Not-minding behaviors may be associated with the very young child who is in the process of learning what is expected or it may be a purposeful direct rejection of authority. You will need to learn the difference and respond accordingly.  They may directly say “No” or  they may argue and complain while they avoid doing what they have been asked to do, they may be very agreeable and tell you they will do it pretty soon (which they never get around to doing), or they may give every indication that they did not even hear you as they proceed to go quietly about their business. They have to be told again and again. Eventually they may do it, but only after great effort on your part.


Children who are being self-indulgent behave in aggravating ways that bring them lots of attention. They may whine, argue, intimidate with accusations such as, “You like her better than me,” or “Why do I always have to do all the work?” or “I hate you!” They may refuse to speak when they should be talking, or they go on and on about what a bad, mean person you are, or they constantly ask questions to which they already know the answers, hide from you, are bossy with adults as well as children, or make a fuss when they do not get their way.


Routine not-minding behavior happens when children do not carry out tasks that they know in advance must be done on a regular basis. This misbehavior is similar to not-minding but is more often associated with the older child and routine tasks which you should not have to keep reminding the child to do. Examples are: completing routine chores, brushing teeth before bedtime, going to bed at 8:00 p.m., getting off to school by 7:30 a.m., doing schoolwork on time, not touching off-limit items, not going to off-limit places and observing school rules. If there is a problem with routine not-minding, it becomes increasingly apparent as children head into the teenage years. Older children know what is expected of them. Adults should not have to be constantly telling the child what to do. As in not-minding behavior the child may eventually do what needs to be done, but seldom takes the initiative to go ahead and do it without continual reminding and prodding by an adult. Parents and teachers usually feel they are working harder at these routine tasks than the child.


Aggressive behaviors are those actions that deliberately hurt people, either physically or emotionally in an attempt to get even. In aggressive behavior, children behave in ways that use situations to their own advantage in a deliberate attempt to hurt others. Occasionally, the child loses all self-control and starts to destroy property and physically hurt people (sometimes including himself) in a kind of blind rage. These extreme forms of aggression can usually be prevented.

Understanding these four different types of misbehavior will prove valuable when you are discerning what type of discipline to apply.  The next post will offer some options.