Not all negative behaviors are misbehaviors. Before you begin to observe and chart the four misbehaviors, you need to be able to identify those times when negative behavior is not a misbehavior. Some examples are: The child is still young and needs to be trained in what is right or the child is attempting to solve a real life problem. In other words, sometimes the child is earnestly trying to get out of a difficult situation and doesn't know how to improve things without acting in negative ways. It is important, therefore, that as you begin to learn to recognize the differences between the four basic types of misbehaviors, you also need to stop and ask yourself whether the child is actually misbehaving or, instead, whether the child's negative behavior indicates he or she needs some help from you in solving a problem. (Taking Charge by JoAnn Nordling)
There are two major training opportunities in which the adult can help the child.
Training in Respectful Communication– When a child demonstrates that he still needs training in right behavior, one method of teaching is having training sessions. A training session is when a child performs an inappropriate behavior and the parent asks the child to make a second attempt at choosing the correct behavior. With a young child you could say “Susie if you would like a drink, instead of whining you need to say ‘may I have a drink please’?” Or when an older child says to a younger sibling “Move! It’s my turn”, you could say “Bobby I would like you to try that again, please.” And have him reenact the request with a more respectful tone.
There are some things that parents will have to practice thousands of times with their children before they get it. But as we talked about in earlier posts, our goal is not immediate results but to write a moral code on their hearts. We need to practice “Please” and “Thank You” with them. We need to ask them to say “Sorry”. Some parents don’t require this because they believe that if it is not genuine it serves no purpose. But the truth is that with children: “Actions precede beliefs.” Parents should insist on correct behavior long before the child is capable of understanding the associated moral concepts. Children first learn to act morally and then they learn how to think morally. Thus, the two phases of moral training include: (1) the development of moral behavior, and (2) the development of moral concepts. Actions come first, understanding comes second.” (Growing Kids Gods Way, Gary Ezzo)
The action of saying “Sorry” leads to - knowledge of the moral code, which leads to - understanding of the reason why, which hopefully leads to – a choice of the heart acted out on the knowledge of knowing how. Without the practice of acting morally, children will not have the knowledge of the moral code and have no cause to think through the reason why they say “Sorry”. If we do not teach a child that he should say “Sorry” when he hurts others, in his heart he may conclude that there is no need for feeling or saying “Sorry”.
The next post will cover the second training opportunity which is training in conflict resolution skills.