Motivations for Misbehavior
Without a doubt, the most problematic four-letter word for human
beings is more. And when it comes to understanding discipline,
you simply cannot discount the important role that "more" plays
between you and your child.
If you tell a 6-year-old he
can't have a cookie before dinner, and yet he sneaks one when
you are out of the room, there's no question he has misbehaved.
The question then becomes, why? Did he know he wasn't supposed
to take a cookie? Of course. Was he capable of following the
no-cookie rule? Again, the answer is yes. Did he know that
getting caught would certainly bring about consequences?
Hopefully, this answer is also yes. Therefore, you must conclude
that he simply chose to disobey and challenge your authority by
partaking of the forbidden cookie. Somewhere in his 6-year-old
brain, he decided the joy (the "more" in this case) that a
cookie creates was worth the risk of incurring your anger and
any subsequent punishment.
All of us make poor choices
on an hourly basis. If you stopped long enough to analyze the
reason for these poor choices, you would find the desire for
more was likely at the root of the choice. Adam and Eve chose to
eat the forbidden fruit. Why? Because they wanted more wisdom.
It would allow them to be more like God. It remains the same
today. We still want more. We mistakenly believe that attaining
more of whatever it is will make us more significant, important,
loved, and therefore happier.
This desire for more often
serves as the motivation for misbehavior. But the key to
effective discipline is to figure out what it is your child
wants more of.
The DQ study led me to put
kids into one of four personality types—Bears, Monkeys,
Porcupines, and Lambs (see sidebar below). Once a parent knows
how to identify each child's type, that parent is most of the
way toward knowing why that child misbehaves and how to bring
about better behavior.
WHETHER YOU HAVE a Bear,
Monkey, Porcupine, or Lamb in your habitat, your goal cannot
change—to be the best parent you can be, trusting that God knew
what he was doing when he gave you your children.
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