Parenting is a tough job and every parent struggles with managing their child’s behaviour, or misbehaviour, at one time or another with some parents struggling more than others.

In order to understand how to bring out positive behaviours and manage child misbehaviour,  it helps if a parent has an awareness of what may have contributed to the behaviour in the first place. Below we talk about some possible reasons for child misbehaviour.

I like to think of the possible causes of child behaviour as falling into two main categories:

First, things we can’t change:

  • Your child’s personality- we know that personality remains relatively stable over time so it is important to use methods that suit an individual child.
  • Your child’s health- you have probably noticed that when your child is unwell they react a little differently than usual. Some children want more cuddles whilst others want to be left alone. It’s important to understand you child’s preference so that you can sooth them in a way that fits well with them and is less likely to lead to a negative interaction.

Second, things we can change:

  • Rewarding for misbehaviour- ever been to the shops and your child starts to get upset because they have seen something they want you to buy for them. You say no but eventually give in because, well lets be honest, it’s just easier. You have just rewarded your child for persisting (or pestering) even through you have already said no. Guess what will happen next time…yes, the same thing. They will continue to ask, likely getting even more upset than before which will make it even more difficult to say no and stick with it.
  • Learning through watching- Kids learn by watching how others do things. So if when your child becomes angry and expresses this anger by screaming, yelling or swearing, it may be because they have seen others do this and are copying them. Take note of your own behaviour and the behaviour of those they spend time with. If you notice things that you don’t really like, take steps to actively change these behaviours.
  • Not giving attention for good behaviour – You ask your child to do something and they do it. You think, “yes, that was really great of them” but instead of telling them that, you get tied up with other things and forget to mention it.
  • Ineffective punishment- most people are guilty of this. Saying one thing and doing another. For example, your child is at a friend’s birthday party and they begin to misbehave. You tell them that if they misbehave again, you’ll take them home. They again misbehave but you don’t take them home. This may be for a number of reasons, it may be that you don’t want to leave as you’re having a good time, it may be that you have another child at the party who will miss out on playing with their friends. Whatever the reason, you’re child has just learned that what you say and what you do are two different things. This means that next time you attempt to warn about a consequence of misbehaviour, they will be less likely to take you seriously.

At InnerTwist, we are very experienced at helping parents understand the cause of their child difficulties and helping them, and their child, manage these concerns.

If you would like to have a chat to us about the difficulties your child or family is struggling with, call us on (07) 3371 5558 or send us an email at