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Lessons from misbehavior

March 8, 2013

Here’s a life-changing idea…                                                                                                                          

In their book, Teach Your Children Well, Madelyn Swift and Victoria Mathies say,

“We grownups need children to misbehave in order to give us clues as to what we need to teach them” (p. 117).

In other words…

Parents naturally think of children’s misbehavior as a nuisance. We want to eliminate it. Yet it may provide important clues about the things our children don’t know. We can learn a lot by noticing how our children misbehave. Many of their inconvenient actions are due to being children rather than being bad.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…                                                          

The next time your child makes a bad choice, instead of swiftly responding with a punishment, patiently and compassionately observe the child. Ask yourself:

  • Was the child trying to exert independence?
  • Is this behavior part of the child’s normal development?
  • Was the child trying to protect him/herself?
  • Did the child simply not know any better?

As you better understand your child and his or her gaps in knowledge, you will be able to customize your parenting.

To find out more…

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You might also enjoy reading Between Parent and Child by Haim Ginott.

One Comment
  1. March 8, 2013 7:30 pm

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