John Cowan - Difficult Behaviour

Publish Date
Friday, 2 February 2018, 11:33AM
Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

By John Cowan

When you are confronted by difficult behaviour, there are a few things to remember.  There are no bad children, just children with bad behaviour. That should be very encouraging because behaviour can be changed! You don’t have to get a new child! The old one will do just fine, you might just need to change the way you are handling them.

Another thing is that poor behaviour could be a sign of stress or being upset. All children will spontaneously throw up a bit of mischief, but if you are constantly being confronted with difficult, uncooperative, unpleasant behaviour, then see it as a symptom. You have to step back, switch on your parent vision and get a bigger picture of the behaviour, to see not just the ‘offence’ but the reasons behind it. What lies behind this behaviour? Are they being picked on at school? Are they getting too tired? Is there sibling rivalry? Are they unwell? Do they feel they aren’t getting enough attention? When they are older you might have to ask, are there drugs involved or other bad influences?  This probably doesn’t mean that you ‘go soft’ on the actual instances of misbehaviour, but it does give you with a better tool for getting things back on track.

It may be a little more work working on the root causes, but it will save and immense about energy and aggravation, and really help your child get to a much better place.

About John

John has been with The Parenting Place ( for seventeen years as their senior writer and presenter.  He had various roles working with youth and families prior to that but actually started his working life as a scientist in neurophysiology at Auckland Hospital.  As well as writing and speaking, John is frequently on radio and television.

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