Your child won’t stop jumping off the sofa or throwing her coat on the floor, even though she KNOWS how to hang it up. Sound familiar? Well it might surprise you to know your child isn’t actually being naughty …

Instead, your child’s ‘bad’ behavior is often caused by lots of other factors – from her physical and mental development through to how you’re acting.

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Refusing to do as he's told

What’s ACTUALLY causing this behaviour: tiredness

If your child’s generally being naughty – refusing to listen or sit down for tea – it could be down to simple tiredness.

One of the main causes of a child misbehaving is because she’s overtired. This is because she is consistently not getting quite enough sleep.

It improves a child’s willingness to cooperate, her self-reliance which means remembering the rules and being willing to follow them without having to be told every time.

It also improves sibling relationships – there’s a lot less squabbling and bickering when children are getting enough sleep.

Playing up to get your attention

What’s ACTUALLY causing this behaviour: you haven’t noticed the good behaviour

When you’ve meals to cook, a school run to do – let alone getting to work on time – it can be easy to miss when your child is behaving well.

Parents are very busy and in even the most loving household it’s easier for children to get attention by misbehaving than behaving.

When children are behaving it enables the parent to send another email or unload the machine. When a child creates some kind of problem, the parents swivel the attention to the child to deal with it.

One solution is to notice and mention all the times your child is doing the right thing, using descriptive praise.

So instead of ‘well done’, ‘amazing’ and so on, instead try and notice and mention exactly what the child did right – or even what your child didn’t do wrong.

For example, you could say, “you and your brother have been sitting looking at that book and neither of you have been grabbing it from each other.”

Every child wants the attention and approval of her parents. If she doesn’t get positive attention, she’ll go for the negative attention.

Behaving badly for you, but not your partner

What’s ACTUALLY causing this behaviour: you and your partner not setting the same rules for your child

Ever have days when your child’s perfectly behaved for her dad, but plays up when you ask her to do something?

Parents need to be united about what they want. You’d be surprised how often parents have a different point of view and allow a different standard of behavior.

This is confusing for your child. She won’t say, “I’m confused”. Instead, she’ll misbehave.

Kids who feel a strong connection to their parents have a stronger desire to respond to their requests. If your child isn’t listening, focus on building the relationship first: play together, read, snuggle, laugh.

Not doing simple things, like brushing her teeth

What’s ACTUALLY causing this behaviour: he can’t remember what he needs to do

You’ve shown your child how to brush her teeth, put her shoes away or hang up her coat. So it’s infuriating when she doesn’t do any of them.

But rather than assuming she’s being naughty, Parents assume once a child knows how to do something, she should do it.

As well as teaching your child you need to train her as well. This then gets your child into the habit of doing something regularly.

Misbehaving mid-morning or mid-afternoon

What’s ACTUALLY causing this behaviour: low blood sugar

If your child starts to play up around 10 am or 3 pm, there’s often a simple reason: she’s hungry.

Hunger, or low blood sugar, can definitely affect a child’s behavior. Many children need to eat every three to four hours, and they need healthy snacks.


What’s ACTUALLY causing this behaviour: not knowing how to express her emotions

Your child is having a tantrum because you’re leaving soft play or she’s not allowed a biscuit. Yet it’s not always her choice to keep screaming.

Your child often can’t stop having a tantrum as she hasn’t developmentally learnt the words to say how she’s feeling.

It could also be she does know the words, but isn’t used to saying how she feels.

I’ll often hear parents say “use your words” which is an easy thing to say, but often children don’t know what words to use. Your child might not know how to say she is angry because her brother got a bigger biscuit than her, or you only read her one book instead of two.

The strategy that helps with that is reflective listening. This means the parent imagines how the child feels. So, you might say, “you’re angry because of X, Y and Z.

It might not be right – after all you can’t read your child’s mind – but the very fact you’re making an effort helps your child feel heard.

Jumping off the sofa

What’s ACTUALLY causing this behavior: pent-up energy

Children need to expend more energy than parents realize.

We often hear parents say their child can’t sit still. But she sits perfectly still at school for six hours, so it’s not that he can’t

Instead, your child needs a chance to get the energy out. It is recommend to stop by the park on the way home from school and letting your child run and jump and climb and get it out of her system.

By doing this, everything will go more smoothly when you’re at home, because your child has burnt off her energy.’


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