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Questions You Should Ask Before Disciplining Your Child

Why Shouldn’t The Child Be That Way?

How Can Your Child Know to Not Behave in That Manner?

Is Your Child Demonstrating an Unmet Need?

Why Is Your Child Behaving That Way?

Adults, including parents and teachers, are often too quick to discipline a child for acting out or annoying them. Disciplining a child isn’t the problem; taking out frustration on the child is. Before you correct your child for being a child or doing something wrong, there are questions you need to ask. These questions help you identify the problem behind the behavior, what could have caused it, and how to solve it.

The best way to correct a child is by understanding the underlying cause behind his actions and devising solutions to eliminate them. The following questions offer simple step-by-step techniques parents, and teachers can implement to bring about quick changes in children. Below are four vital questions to ask yourself to help you identify a behavior issue and how to solve it.

  • Why Shouldn’t The Child Be That Way?

Adults often overreact when a child behaves annoyingly and embarrassingly, or they worsen the stress they already feel. Meanwhile, sometimes, the reaction is out of fear that the child may fall or injure himself somehow. When your child behaves unseemly, you need to refrain from lashing out; stop and ask yourself why. Ask what is the worst that could happen if you don’t respond or react like you’re about to?

Also, ask why you think your child can’t do what they are doing at the moment. For example, you’ve just cleaned the living room, and your child is undoing your efforts, which can undoubtedly be frustrating. The natural response with the least resistance would be to shut down the child; after all, they immediately obey. However, that’s not the response to give if you want a lasting result from that discipline.

You should refrain from controlling everything and everybody and instead try to put yourself in their shoes. You can’t arrange the outcome of your child’s behavior; you can only try and understand and then treat it.

  • How Can Your Child Know to Not Behave in That Manner?

The way children see the world isn’t the same way adults do, which many adults don’t understand. Thus, they unfairly assume or expect that their children see the world from their perspective. To effectively address the behavior issue with your children, first carefully examine the models around them. You want to ensure that they have good models around them to learn from; you should also set good examples for them.

For example, you can encourage your child to always read when you read often. Agree before time and set up rules before starting the activities, rather than while the activities have already begun. As a parent, teacher, or caregiver, this means you need to be proactive and think ahead of time. Thinking ahead helps you predict behavior situations that would prove challenging when teaching your children what you want them to learn.

  • Is Your Child Demonstrating an Unmet Need?

Adults and children alike demonstrate certain behaviors to get what they want and satisfy unmet needs. Perhaps, your child is behaving that way to exhibit his need to create or draw. As a caregiver, all you probably need to eliminate the problem is to create appropriate opportunities for your child to draw. For example, if you have a bossy child, you can satisfy his need to be in charge by letting him lead family activities.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got a teen or tween acting out, it probably has something to do with her exploring her identity. Relaxing over her experiments with her appearance in a way that doesn’t endanger her can satisfy that need. So ask yourself if you’ve ever behaved in a curious way to satisfy an unmet need. 

  • Why Is Your Child Behaving That Way?

As adults, we find ways to act out to create more purpose in our life; children do, too. A good example is a little boy picking fights with his sister because it brings his busy grandpa into the room. He hopes his grandpa will take his side in the power play. Another is when your little girl, who has always been the baby, now has to share her parents with her new sibling.

Another example is when your son experiments with sounds he can make with his voice, which annoys others. If you lash out in these cases, you’d be killing their spirits in the long run. On the other hand, if you understand why your child acts the way he does, you can respond appropriately to meet his needs.


There is always a better alternative to disciplining a child that doesn’t involve making them feel less than. Thus, before you lash out at your little one in anger, wait, take a deep breath, and ask yourself these questions. You may, in the answers, see their behavior in a different light and devise a workable solution to address it.

Often, behavior results from what is learned through imitation of getting unmet purposes or needs satisfied. Instead of reacting instinctively, imagine ways you can be proactive to avoid or eliminate your child’s challenging behaviors.

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