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Parenting Guide Sheets
15. Misbehaviour

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Page 15B
2. The Mistaken Goals that Produce Misbehaviour
     Let's consider Dreikurs' four mistaken goals one by one:

a) To Get Attention
· Wrong view: I need to get constant attention to feel worthwhile  
· Reason: child has been ignored by one or both parents, i.e. they think, “If I didn't get their attention by good behaviour I'll try bad.”    
· Identified by parent: when the parent feels annoyed or irritated.     
· Balance: All children need attention, but not all the time.
· NOT to continue to ignore the behaviour, which only reinforces the belief.
· Talk to your child and explain that you love them and the fact that sometimes you have to give attention to someone or something else, doesn't diminish that love.
· Make time to give special attention to your child when they are not expecting it – so it conveys your love but doesn't link it to their misbehaviour.
· Be purposeful with the attention you give them so that they do things on their own some of the time and learn to become self-reliant.
· Work on reinforcing their self-esteem.
Illustration: Jenny's parents were going through a difficult financial time. Jenny's mum also had to go into hospital for ten days. While she was in there, Dad found Jenny being around him all the time when he was at home. When Mum returned home Jenny was equally clinging to her. One afternoon Mum sat down and talked with Jenny about the difficulties they had been having and reassured her that it was all working out now, especially as she was well on the way to recovery after her operation. She and Jenny planned a couple of shopping trips together. For Jenny it had not only been the sense of being ignored but also the fear of losing her mother.
b) To Exert Power
· Wrong view: I am important if I can make you do what I want
· Reason: child has been demeaned by one or both parents i.e. they think, “I'm not to let this continue. I'm going to be boss, I'm going to take charge!”
· Identified by parent: when the parent feel angry, fights or gives in.
· Balance: a sense of empowerment is a step towards independence which is good, but if that power is being used as a tool to redress a wrong balance, that is not good.
· NOT to enter into a power struggle but to break into the behaviour cycle somehow with something that acts as a distraction
· Talk to your child and see if you can get them to share what they feel is behind their behaviour – see later pages on ‘Talking'.
· Use choices and consequences – see later.

Illustration: Alan's parents were going through a trying time coping with the possibility of Alan's Dad being made redundant and struggling to cope with Alan's Grandma being diagnosed with cancer. As a result of this both parents had been rather snappy and short-tempered with Alan and on one occasion Dad had snapped at him, “For goodness sake, Alan, grow up, act your age!” Alan's response had to been to start to ‘not hear' instructions or ‘forget' what he was asked to do. Eventually Mum had started bribing him with increased pocket money to do things around the house. Alan had felt put down and saw no likelihood of change and so had decided to rule his own little world by ignoring his parents' demands. Although both of them resisted his activity, Mum eventually caved in with the pocket money inducement. It wasn't until both parents realised what had been happening that they sat down with Alan and shared with him all that had been going on and said sorry for being inattentive and snappy. Alan changed.
c) To Get Revenge
· Wrong view: I'll get my own back on you for hurting me.
· Reason: child has been hurt by one or both parents i.e. they think, “If you've hurt me, I'll hurt you. I'll get my own back on you!”
· Identified by parent: when the parent feels hurt and wants to get back at the child.
· Balance: facing up to injustices is good but there are right ways to do it.
· NOT to retaliate for that only shows your child they have achieved what they set out to do.
· Talk to your child using “I” language – see later page on Talking.
· Work at building trust and respect in you both
Illustration: Denise's parents have just had another baby girl. At seven Denise had had life all her own way until the baby came along. Suddenly Denise feels she is being ignored and starts acting up. Her Dad tells her to cut it out or she'll be in big trouble. One evening Denise purposefully delays coming home straight after an after-school club and Mum worries. When Denise does eventually get home her mum scolds her for being late. Denise screams, “So what do you care? I'm no longer a member of this family. I hate you!” and flounces up to her bedroom where she slams and locks the door.
Denise was hurt by apparently being unloved by her Mum who was rather taken up with caring for the new baby, and had not involved Denise in its arrival and care. She had determined to get her revenge by staying out late and making her Mum worried and when confronted, poured out even more revenge with the words of hostile rejection. Fortunately after the last episode Mum and Dad sat down and talked about and realised what must have been going on in Denise's mind. One Saturday afternoon, Dad asked Denise if she would like to go down to the shops with him, and on the way he nudged her into talking about what she had been feeling. When they arrived home it was all poured out and Mum threw her arms around Denise and said she was so sorry that Denise had felt left out and immediately the two began planning how Denise could be involved in doing small things to help with her little sister – as well as planning one or two things she and Mum could do together while Dad baby-sat.
d) To Express Inadequacy
· Wrong view: I'm worthless, I'm useless   
· Reason: happens when older children particularly feel overly discouraged by failure and no one appearing to be there for them. (NB. Of the four goals this one is almost not misbehaviour but more simply a behaviour that somehow needs remedying.)
· Identified by parent: when the parent feels discouraged and wants to give up on the child.
· Balance: we're all prone to failure but life is about learning to overcome it together.

· NOT to give up on your child
· Avoid criticism and look for legitimate reasons to compliment your child.
· Encourage your child whenever possible.
· Look for the positives in their life.
· Work on single issues together.
Illustration: Jack was doing badly at school in all subjects. He was totally discouraged. In talking with him it was found that in English he particularly struggled and didn't get on with that subject teacher. Some private English coaching was laid on for Jack until he became much more confident in it. In that class at school he did well in his end of year tests. What was also interesting was that he improved in ALL his other subjects as well. The one discouragement had pulled him down across the board. The one improvement so boosted his confidence that it made him feel more self assured across the board.
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