If you are married, have you ever said to your spouse, "You need to deal with your child" OR "Look, what your child just did." Isn't funny how we never want to take ownership of our children when they are misbehaving. Whose ever child it is, there is usually a reason behind the misbehaving. As adults, we often think our kids are just small people. We forget that developmentally they can't reason or think things through like an adult (come to think of it, I know some adults who can't reason, either). Most of the time, your child can't even put to words how to express what is going on. How many times have you heard your child say, "I don't know." Believe it or not, sometimes they really "don't know"! To explain what is going on better, let me introduce you to one of my favorite Psychologists, Rudolph Dreikurs. (Here is a book he wrote- click here).
Dreikurs was an American Psychologist who took another Psychologist's theories (Alfred Adler) and made them practical for everyday folks like us. Dreikurs thoughts children, have an inborn desire to belong and feel like they are a part of a group. Unfortunately, due to feeling bad about themselves and poor parenting, these children have taken on ways to fit in that don't work so well. They keep doing these behaviors to gain a sense of belonging. Problem is that these behaviors are not working, (think Dr. Phil, "How's that been working for you?") but they know no other way of acting or behaving. "Dreikurs identified four behaviors that could be manifested in dozens of ways as children attempt to gain a position of significance in the group: attention seeking (e.g., interrupting), the use of power (e.g., bullying), revenge seeking (e.g., playing nasty practical jokes), and displaying inadequacy (e.g., withdrawing)" (Neukrug, n.d.). Below is a chart explaining the four goals and some ways to respond to your child's misbehavior.