Why Do Children Behave Badly?

Do your kids misbehave once in a while? Do you think that they will behave better if they wanted to? Dr Stuart Ablon and his team have discovered that kids do not behave well not because of a lack of willpower but because they can’t. To behave better, children need more skills, not will.

Childhood is a period where a child is learning, among other things, how to have mastery over their impulses. This skill is known by many names – self-regulation, impulse control or the ability to delay gratification. Toddlers have little self-control because the part of the brain responsible for controlling the emotional, impulsive part of the brain is not yet fully developed. Therefore, they are much more likely to act on their impulses. A child who snatches a toy out of a friend’s hand is unable to reason with themselves on why that is not the right thing to do. Most parents would respond by making a rule, such as “No snatching!” But are such rules effective in stopping the child from snatching the toy out of another child’s hand again. What this child needs is not a rule but help in increasing her ability to resist the impulse to snatch the toy. 

So, the next time your child behaves badly, ask yourself, “What skill does my child lack and need to acquire in order to do better?”

By Parcsen Loke, Family Life Coach, Centre for Fathering. If you wish to contact Parcsen, please make an appointment at: calendly.com/iamparcsen

Ask Your Child: What should Daddy or Mummy do when you do not listen to me?