There are three aspects to consider when we want to change the behavior of a rebellious child. Each is equally important and will be addressed separately.
3 Issues Related to Behavior Change
- Something is causing the child to rebel.
- There is a definite remedy related to the cause.
- There must be consistent discipline even while working on the remedy.
That sounds like something I heard in my college child development classes that make parents want to say, “So…What does that mean to me as I sit here in the trenches?” Those three bullet points are important to give structure to the posts that will follow in coming days.
Bad Behavior Connected to Developmental Stages
Before I go into the “nitty-gritty” of each of the above aspects, let’s review some background.
All children go through stages of good and bad behavior. Bad behavior coincides with the times in their lives when there is change. For example, the terrible twos are a result of the new freedom to have more control over their worlds. They have suddenly discovered that they can say “no” and sometimes get the desired results. They in turn are hearing “no” said to them frequently because they have more ability to get around and get into things. This is only one example of the age-related times of disequilibrium.
Bad Behavior Connected to Change
Other times of change and, therefore, less desirable behavior are starting school (initially and each year), going through puberty, entering high school, and leaving for college. Also, changes in family dynamics (divorce, mom going to work, a parent being deployed overseas, death, a new sibling, etc.) cause disruption in the equilibrium, and hence misbehavior.
Bad Behavior Can Be Changed
Bad behavior to the point of serious rebellion should not cause parents to wring their hands and say, “I’ve messed up. Nothing can be done.” Something can be done to bring the child back into control. It takes commitment and consistency.
My next post will be about reasons that children rebel.