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Understand Inappropriate Behavior

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Understand the Purpose of Behavior:

There are several reasons for the display of inappropriate behavior. There are also 'age stages' for unacceptable behaviors and these types of behaviors are often outgrown when handled properly. We need to remember that it is not wise to accept unacceptable behaviors. Think of the message one sends by accepting annoying, inappropriate behaviors, essentially one leads the child to believing that it's no big deal. Think of some of the statements used to validate these behaviors:

'Oh, boys will be boys', or
'Oh, he'll outgrow it', or
'Oh it's just a stage he/she's going through'

Although we see these behaviors regularly, to do nothing about it is not a good thing to do. There is no reason to expect or accept inappropriate behaviors. Don't feel powerless, as though you can do nothing, that's the mistake often made.

We need to understand the behavior, realize that it's not appropriate regardless of the age or stage the child may be going through and help to positively influence and curb the behavior. Unfortunately, it's too easy to turn a blind eye to the behavior and in so doing, the behavior continues and in many cases gets worse.

Determine the Purpose for the Behavior:

Typically there are 4 reasons for inappropriate behavior (according to Dreikurs):

  • Attention
  • Revenge
  • Power
  • Display of Inadequacy
Attention: When a child can't get your attention, they'll often act out to get it.

Revenge A child doesn't feel loved for some reason and seeks revenge for attention, they feel important when they hurt others or hurt the feelings of others.

Power These children need to be the 'boss'. They only feel important when they are the boss. Power struggles become numerous in these situations.

Display of Inadequacy These children usually have low confidence and self-esteem levels and will give up quickly thinking they can't do anything. They don't often have a sense of doing something successful.

Once you've determined the goal of the inappropriate behavior, you are much more equipped to turn it around.

In a nutshell, here is what you need to remember in order to change the inappropriate behaviors:

  • Always show respect, when you give respect, you'll get it -- eventually. Model the behavior you want to see at all times.
  • Encourage the child, boost their self-esteem, convey that they are loved and give them the attention for acting appropriately.
  • Never engage in power struggles, refrain from becoming angry. Do not retaliate.
  • Recognize that ALL inappropriate behaviors stem from needing attention.
See this article for specific interventions to a variety of behaviors.

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