Why do Children Misbehave?

Most children misbehave from time to time. This is distressing to parents because most would like to be perfect parents of perfect children. There are many reasons for a child’s misbehaviour and many ways for parents to help the child improve. Difficult behaviour includes:

  • Using bad languages
  • Behaving aggressively or violently
  • Destroying property
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Refusing to co operate with necessary tasks, such as getting dressed in the morning, going to bed at night or doing school work.

Children can misbehave by accident or on purpose, and it is important to understand the difference, for example:

  1. Unintentional misbehaviour – Your eight years, trying to be silly distracts another child while he is batting on the cricket pitch; the distraction resulted in the child becoming injured.
  2. Intentional misbehaviour – your child steals candy from the corner store after you refused to give his/her allowance two days early.

Why do children misbehave?


Sometimes, the causes of misbehaviour are easy to see: other times, they are hidden. The reasons may include:

  • Impulsiveness & Inexperience – a lot of misbehaviour happens because the child does not know any better. For example, the eight year old in the cricket scenario was excited and having fun (impulsive) and may be too young to understand that even the simplest actions can be dangerous when done carelessly (inexperience).


  • Resentment and anger at rules – nobody likes being told what to do, and that includes children. Yet, children get told what to do or how to do it, all the time! so it is not surprising that they misbehave out of resentment or anger. For example, your three year old may hit a playmate after you insist that toys be shared, or your teenager may yell, swear and slam doors after being told repeatedly to clean up his/her room.


  • Resentment and anger at unfair treatment – sometimes, we take out our own anger and frustration on our children. We may yell at our children for being noisy when the real reason is we are angry about something that happened at work. We all do this kind of thing occasionally, but if we do it all the time, our children will respond with resentful and angry behaviour of their own.


  • Frustration from too much pressure to perform – sometimes we push our children to achieve too much too soon. If a child is always being pressured to do things, like ride a bicycle before she/he is physically ready or play games that are too difficult for his/her age, she/he may refuse to learn new things at home or slack off at school.


  • Fears: real or imaginary - if your child suddenly refuses to do things that she/he used to do, it may be because of a real or imagined fear, for example, your child may suddenly refuse to get on the school bus because she/ he has been frightened by a larger, hostile child who was started taking the same bus (real), or it may be a case of resisting going to bed because “there is a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the closet” (imaginary).




© 2010-2012 Pebbles n Pearls. All rights reserved. Pebbles n Pearls is not responsible for content published on websites accessible from this site or for content received from third parties.