Parenting Styles and Proven Tools for Dealing with Child Misbehavior

This is the third in a four part series on effective parenting skills. The text of this article has been condensed for the purposes of this blog.

Be equipped : Using the “Three P’s”  – Patience, Persistence, and Perseverance

Parents can use a range of effective techniques to disengage from power struggles and deflate conflicts with their children. Natural and logical consequences work; they save parents’ energy, prevent frustration and power struggles with children, and effectively teach proper behaviors with the potential to develop as life skills. This kind of parenting calls for the all-weather-proofed equipment of patience, persistence, and perseverance (PPP). Otherwise, parent and child end up in conflict and engaged in a power struggle.

6. How to recognize what your child’s misbehavior communicates and what you can do about it.

Learning to understand your child’s behaviors with their underlying goals will empower you to practice positive and effective discipline, facilitating a healthier developmental atmosphere and environment. If you think about your child’s behavior as oriented toward the goal of achieving significance and belonging in his life, it will help you identify the pattern of that behavior and help him achieve that goal in a positive way.

Identify misbehavior in your children and correct it in an effective and positive way, while at the same time developing socioemotional and behavioral skills. Parents should have a good understanding about themselves and how they tend to achieve significance in their daily lives as that is most likely reflected in their parenting style.

A. What you can do if your child’s underlying goal to achieve significance is through engaging in constant seeking and gaining of attention.

If you find that your child throws a temper tantrum, gets into a fight with a sibling or a peer, or sets the stove on fire whenever you answer a phone or tend to other demands, the message is, “notice me and/or my abilities and consider them seriously.” The goal is not just to get attention, but also to gain special treatment. Otherwise, the child finds it difficult to believe that she is important or significant for who she is. You may be contributing to this mistaken belief if you feel guilty when the child is bored or unhappy, and do not allow the child to find resources and develop skills to deal with her disappointment on her own.

Being pulled toward doing things for the child, constantly reminding him that you are busy, or seeking to persuade or bribe him only confirms that you are dealing with attention-seeking behavior that needs redirection It is helpful to involve the child instead in useful and productive tasks so he feels acknowledged. And, set aside some special time when the child can get undivided attention. This helps the child learn that he is valued even when you or others are busy. Then, the goal of your child’s misbehavior will lose purpose.

B. Your child has the belief that she is able to belong at home or at school only as long as she asserts her power and is able to be a boss in every interaction and circumstance.

Since this is about your child’s need for significance, which she will continue to seek, you set up a power struggle if the child prevails, since the child is determined to achieve importance. Misbehavior will most likely intensify within this dynamic.

A child’s misbehavior is about asking for choices and opportunities, not about a direct challenge. Acknowledge your child’s attitude and offer choices to her. Set routines and limits and follow through. Speak less to avoid unproductive arguing. Act on what was decided before. And, allow your child to contribute to setting reasonable limits. This helps undermine the purpose of the child’s inappropriate desire for power.

A family council can serve as an effective solution in this situation. Here, the child’s opinion about consequences can be considered. Every member of the family can express themselves and discuss challenges facing the group. Meetings serve to negotiate family responsibilities and keep everyone accountable. There is emphasis on what family can do as a team. Such meetings should be set at least weekly and preferably at the same time.

Overall, practice being firm, but kind; provide limited choices; allow children to contribute to limit-setting and consequences; and follow through. Remove yourself from the bosses’ position and leave the routine, limits, or consequences to teach the child.

If you are, or someone you know is, struggling with parenting contact us at Barrington Behavioral Health and Wellness. Phone: 888-261-2178 or email:

Dr. Vilija Ball, Psy.D., LCP

Dr. Ball works with adults of all ages, adolescents, children, families, and couples from diverse backgrounds and cultures, connecting with, and empowering them, to seek growth, meaning, and fulfillment in their lives.

Dr. Ball received her Doctoral Degree from Adler University in Chicago, Illinois where she obtained additional training in group psychotherapy.

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