1.    Understand inappropriate behavior

2.    The attention seeking child

3.    Bullying

4.    Aggressive behavior

5.    Chronic lying

6.    Chronic teaser

7.    Tantrum

8.    8 great ways to get your kids to cooperate


Understand Inappropriate Behavior

There are several reasons for the display of inappropriate behavior. There are also 'age stages' for unacceptable behaviors and these types of behaviors are often outgrown when handled properly. We need to remember that it is not wise to accept unacceptable behaviors. Think of the message one sends by accepting annoying, inappropriate behaviors, essentially one leads the child to believing that it's no big deal. Think of some of the statements used to validate these behaviors:

'Oh, boys will be boys', or
'Oh, he'll outgrow it', or
'Oh it's just a stage he/she's going through'

Although we see these behaviors regularly, to do nothing about it is not a good thing to do. There is no reason to expect or accept inappropriate behaviors. Don't feel powerless, as though you can do nothing, that's the mistake often made.

We need to understand the behavior, realize that it's not appropriate regardless of the age or stage the child may be going through and help to positively influence and curb the behavior. Unfortunately, it's too easy to turn a blind eye to the behavior and in so doing, the behavior continues and in many cases gets worse.

Determine the Purpose for the Behavior:

Typically there are 4 reasons for inappropriate behavior (according to Dreikurs):




         Display of Inadequacy

Attention: When a child can't get your attention, they'll often act out to get it.

Revenge A child doesn't feel loved for some reason and seeks revenge for attention, they feel important when they hurt others or hurt the feelings of others.

Power These children need to be the 'boss'. They only feel important when they are the boss. Power struggles become numerous in these situations.

Display of Inadequacy These children usually have low confidence and self-esteem levels and will give up quickly thinking they can't do anything. They don't often have a sense of doing something successful.


The Attention Seeking Child

This child constantly does things to get your attention and it can become quite annoying. They will blurt out and tell you what they did or that they're finished etc. Their desire for attention is almost insatiable. Much of what they do is done to get attention. It doesn't seem to matter that you provide lots of attention - they continually seek more.


The Attention Seeking child is in need of more attention than most. They seem to have something to prove and don't take as much pride intrinsically as they do extrinsically. This child may not have a sense of belonging. Try and understand the need - this child may have a low self-esteem and may need some confidence building. Sometimes the attention seeker is simply just immature.


         Sit down with this child and explain to them that you have a number of children to work with each day. Provide them with a time that is just for them. Even a 2 minute period before or after recess that is their time. Stick to it! Each time they look for the attention, remind them of their specific time. In time if you're consistent, you will see that this strategy can work quite well.

         Promote intrinsic motivation. Ask the child what they like about what they did.

         Always commend the child on his/her improvement.

         During the child's special time, take time to boost their confidence.

         Provide the child with responsibilities and a leadership role from time to time.

  Students often don't know what appropriate behavior is - they need to be taught! Teach the appropriate interactions, responses, anger management - social skills. Use role play and drama.

  Expect/demand appropriate responses by ensuring the bully apologizes directly to the victim.

  Have a 0 tolerance classroom policy in place that is well understood.

  As much as possible, recognize and reward positive behavior.





This child bullies others and can be quite a manipulator. He/she is frequently involved in name calling and likes to make fun of others. He/she will antagonize others, involves him/herself in fighting or instigating fights or arguments and belittling others. The bully is described as being 'insensitive' to others. He/she likes to solve problems by winning fights and arguments. Aggressive children often threaten others. Other students will fear the bully as he/she will be both verbally and physically aggressive. The bully loves power, is dominant and is usually 'guiltless'. The bully tends to be lacking in empathy and compassion.


The bully is usually somebody that was bullied. There may be an issue at home (physical/mental abuse or neglect, or very poor role modeling). Remember, the bully doesn't suffer from self-esteem.


         As much as possible, recognize and reward positive behavior.

         You need to sit with the bully in a one to one situation to find out where the behavior stems from. Ensure you have eye contact, engage the bully in conversation to find out what those deep roots are.(Family problems, lack of social skills, psychiatric or psychological disorder)

         Teach cooperative skills, teach anger management, teach empathy. Use drama (role playing) when you can.

         The bully thinks it's ok to be abusive, you will need to teach otherwise.

         You need a 'No Tolerance' policy and the bully has to be a part of the implementation of the policy. The bully needs to fully understand the no tolerance policy.

         Consistent use of effective consequences. Over time, this method will reduce the amount of bullying.

         The entire staff needs to be involved to curb this behavior - using the consistent consequences.

         If you can build home/family connections, this too will assist in the consistency of approaches used and consequences implemented.

         This child may need counseling and you may be instrumental in ensuring that this happens with a professional.

         Bullies need to be taught to be accountable for their actions and state what they did, how it should have been handled and what they will do next time. Bullies also need to self-monitor.




This child will often antagonize others, involves him/herself in fighting or instigating fights or arguments. This type can often be seen as a bully and tends to have just a few friends. He/she likes to solve problems by winning fights and arguments. Aggressive children often threaten others. Other students often fear the aggressor as he/she will be both verbally and physically aggressive.


The aggressor will rarely have self-confidence and gains it through aggressive behavior. Aggressors are attention seekers and they enjoy the attention they gain from being aggressive. Power brings attention and the aggressor has learned this. Due to the child's weaker self-image and the fact that he or she doesn't fit in, they try aggressive behavior and soon become leaders, even though they usually know that they are behaving inappropriately.


         Never ignore inappropriate aggressions and do not get drawn into a power struggle with the aggressor.

         Be firm but gentle in your approach. Remember, the aggressor can handle the tough side of you but he/she will succumb to gentleness and it's really what he wants - the right kind of attention.

         Deal one to one with the aggressor and devise a plan for him/her to take control of their own behavior. See behavior contracts.

         Successful teachers know that when they establish a one to one relationship with the aggressor, success soon follows. Remember, the aggressor can usually tell if you genuinely like him/her, be genuine, this child merely needs attention.

         Provide opportunities for this child to act appropriately and get some badly needed attention, give him/her responsibilities and provide praise.

         Catch the aggressor behaving well and provide immediate, positive feedback. In time, you will see that the aggressive behaviors will start to diminish.

         Provide him/her with activities that bring forth leadership in a positive way, always let him/her know that you care, trust and respect him. Remind him/her that it's the inappropriate behaviors that you don't like.

         Provide as many methods as you can for this child to take ownership for his/her inappropriate behavior. Probe him/her with how should that have been handled and how will it be handled next time.

Never forget that ALL children need to know you care about them and that they can contribute in a positive way. It took the child a long time to become a master of aggressive behavior, be consistent, patient and understand that change will take time.



This child is often caught up in 'distorting the truth'. Do not let lying become a habit.


The child who exaggerates, tells lies or distorts the truth does so for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they feel that they are not liked (for reasons often unknown) and will tell lies to make the listener like him/her more. They have learned that some forms of distorting the truth get them some attention; this sometimes compensates for their feelings of inadequacies. Sometimes the child will lie to avoid being reprimanded or to avoid consequences that they believe will happen with a truth. Some children lie to get others into trouble, these children are often in trouble themselves. Children often lie to avoid tasks, a child will say that their homework is done in order to do something more pleasurable. Children don't like to get caught when misbehaving and will often lie or stretch the truth.

We must remember though, chronic or habitual liars rarely feel good about themselves. Look for patterns in the child's lying, does the lying only occur at specific times or in specific situations? Try and determine what the child's needs are that makes him/her want to lie.


         Always model 'telling the truth', avoid 'little white lies.

         Teach your child through role playing, the value of telling the truth. This will take time and some patience.

         Role play the potential devastating consequences of lying.

         Do not accept excuses for lying, lying is not acceptable.

         Children should understand the hurtful consequences of lying and whenever possible, they should apologize for lying.

         Logical consequences need to be in place for the child who lies.

         No matter what, children need to know that lying is never acceptable and will not be tolerated.

         Children often lie to keep their parents or teacher happy, they need to know that you value the truth much more than a small act of misbehavior.

         Children need to be part of the solution and or consequences. Ask them what they are prepared to give or do as a result of the lie.

         Remind the child that you're upset with what he/she did. Reinforce that it's not the child but what he/she did that upset you and let him/her know that you are disappointed. You know the saying - bring them up before you bring them down. For instance: "It is so unlike you to lie about your homework, you're so good at getting things done and staying on top of things."

         Praise the truth! Catch them telling the truth at a time when you know they would like to sugar coat a situation.

         Avoid lectures and quick irrational decisions. E.g., if you lie again, you'll be grounded for a year!"



This child constantly teases and pokes fun at others and is often seen as picking on them. Teasing is actually another form of criticizing and harassment, the child who teases is usually 'putting others down'. Unfortunately, it's the child with special needs that is often getting the brunt of teasing. Ironically, it's often the child with a behavior disorder that is doing the teasing.


At some point most children have taken part in teasing. Some tease because the one being teased is just different and the teaser doesn't understand those differences. Others tease because they take pleasure in poking fun and it's a quick way to get attention. Sometimes the child who teases just likes to hurt others and if they get the response they're looking for, they'll continue to tease that much more. Usually the teaser has a lower self-esteem, or is someone that has been picked on him/herself. Some children tease out of sheer ignorance. It must be noted however, that a certain amount of teasing can help children build strategies and become stronger socially.


         The teaser needs to be taught that he is hurting others. This can be accomplished through some role playing.

         The teaser needs to be taught about difference among children, why a child may stutter or why a child looks different, or why a child has a limp etc.

         It's important to find out why the teaser teases and educate the child about the harmful consequences.

         Children also need to be taught what to do in the event that they witness teasing. Teasing need not be tolerated.

         Teach the skills for dealing with the teaser (ignoring, finding a better friend to play with, don't over react, teach the child that's being teased that they 'can handle it'.

         The teaser needs to know that teasing will not be accepted and will not be tolerated in the classroom.

         Teach the child that is getting teased to provide the teaser with a response they're not expecting. For instance, if they're being teased about their glasses or a piece of clothing, have them say "Thanks, I quite like them too", and ask them to walk away.

         Children need to be part of the solution and or consequences. Ask them what they are prepared to give or do as a result of the hurt they've cause through teasing.

         Remind the child that you're upset with what he/she did. Reinforce that it's not the child but what he/she did that upset you and let him/her know that you are disappointed. You know the saying - bring them up before you bring them down. For instance: "It is so unlike you to tease XXXX about his/her glasses."

         Praise the teaser for positive interactions, this will help his/her self-esteem and hopefully reduce the amount of teasing he/she embarks on.

         Avoid lectures and quick irrational decisions. E.g., if you tease again, you'll be suspended!"



When your toddler throws a kicking, screaming tantrum, stay calm as they want your attention for the wish to be fulfilled which is not genuine at the moment of this action. Follow these guidelines:

  1. State the rules. Set a maximum of three behavioral rules (such as "Be gentle" or "Use your indoor voice"). If your child cannot comply, gently and quietly remove her from the situation.
  2. Don't say "no." Too much repetition undercuts the word's meaning. Instead, distract your child and use "no" only for important situations.
  3. Communicate. Discuss problem behavior, but wait for your child to cool down before having a talk. He will listen and understand better if he's not upset or agitated.

Be a More Positive Parent

Forget yelling and nagging. Focus on positive discipline to bring out the best in your kids and create a more harmonious household.

8 Great Ways to Get Your Kids to Cooperate

  1. Acknowledge strong feelings. A child who feels understood sees you as on his side rather than on his back and is more likely to cooperate. Say, "I noticed how angry you get when you're having fun and have to leave your friend's house. Let's practice a happy goodbye for tomorrow. How would that look and sound?"
  2. Talk less. Say what needs to be done in a single word if you can. "Coat." "Breakfast." "Teeth." Children hate long explanations, which often turn into a screaming tirade of reasons it must be done. You're also modeling self-control.
  3. Tell your child what he can do, rather than what he cannot do. For example, "We pet the cat" works better than, "Don't pull the cat's tail like you did last week." This serves as a reminder of an acceptable action rather than of what your child did wrong.
  4. Give limited choices. Say to your child, "You can get in your car seat all by yourself or Mommy will help you do it. Do you need my help? It's your choice." Most toddlers will say, "Self, self . . . I do it." The more you do this, the more you'll get "self" cooperation.
  5. Lighten up. Make inanimate objects do the talking for you. If you want your child to put on his shoes, for instance, make the shoes say, "Please put your feet in my tummy." Toddlers will usually happily comply, at least once.
  6. Rewind! This announcement means that your child will "take back" her words and actions and start anew with good behavior. Silly babble and walking backwards indicate the bad behavior has been "erased." In order for this to be effective, it must be introduced, demonstrated, and talked about repeatedly, outside the heat of the moment.
  7. Take a break. To calm a frustrated child, stop and breathe together. Say, "Looks like you need a break; let's breathe together." Sitting across from each other, holding hands, inhale slowly and deeply three times. Say, "I'm feeling relaxed now."
  8. Take a silly break. A sense of humor is very positive and often works well to stop misbehavior. When things are out of control, consider declaring, "We need to get silly!" Dance, sing the "silly song," tell a joke, talk in a silly voice or a foreign language. The children will join right in - or at least stop misbehaving long enough to watch the show!