7 Reasons Children Misbehave

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne topic that seems to be of universal interest among parents and teachers is that of Behavior Management. When I was teaching a class of 4 & 5 year-olds on a regular basis, it was definitely a topic I was interested in. So, let’s look at some of the “whys” of misbehavior. As I look through this list it occurs to me that most of these needs also apply to us adults. We may not misbehave because of it, but if these needs are not being met they can reflect in our personalities. Hmmm. Something to ponder.

Misbehaving usually occurs because they are choosing inappropriate ways to get their perceived needs met. They may not even be conscious of the specific need or be able to express it. Let’s take a look at a few of the basic needs that could cause negative behavior:

1. Attention – Children of all ages need to feel valued and wanted. “I need someone to listen to me.” Try to give the child attention at times when he is not exhibiting negative behavior. The most importnat moments of class time for this child are the first five minutes after he arrives. Make sure to pay attention to him as soon as he comes in.

2. Leadership – A child needs to do something significant and have his efforts acknowledged. Give the child choices as to how she will comply with your wishes. For exmaple, “Would you like to clean off the table, or the shelf?” You could also provide her with valid leadership opportunities.

3. Security – Clearly outlined boundaries help the child feel secure and learn self-control. Communicate the rules and enforce them consistently.

4. Encouragement – Everyone needs encouragement now and then-adults and kids.  Children need to know you have confidence in their abilities. They need to experience success. Express your confidence in the child’s abilities. Give him tasks you know he can do successfully.

5. Health – If a child does not feel well, they may be Hungry tired studentcranky and act out.  They may just need some rest. If you suspect a child is getting sick, let her rest away from other children. Or, ask her parents to come get her.

6. Nutrition – OK, raise your hand if you (the adult) have ever been hungry and cranky!  You probably knows how this feels.  If a child is feeling hungry or eating “junk foods,” it may reflect in her behavior. This is why it is a good idea to have snacks available.

7. Comfort – This could go hand-in-hand with the security issue.  A child may be experiencing some problems you don’t know about.  He may be afraid, angry, confused.  Any of these issues could cause a child to act out. Maintaining a stable classroom routine will comfort such a child, as well as giving time for the child to talk to you one-on-one.

What other ways have you found to constructively meet the needs of your chlldren, or to manage behavior?


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