Giving in to bad behaviour


Does it sometimes feel like we are making decisions based on the need for respite from our children’s behaviour at the cost of the long-term gains? Do we go for the quick fix and short-term respite?


​We all know what it’s like when our children play up, we can feel the tension of wanting to restore some kind of equilibrium and wanting to do so as fast as possible; remember the meltdowns in aisle 7 of the supermarket, the teenager begging to wear those clothes and make up, go to ‘that’ party, begging to get their first phone or a snapchat account?! No one likes to have the intensity of an acting out child, it’s hard to cope with and feels SO intense. The longer it goes on the more desperate we can feel and sometimes this means that we give in to the acting-out behaviour in order to ‘’restore the peace’. But do we consider what the long-term consequences of this are, or are we just happy to get the short-term relief?


​No one wants to be ruled by a four-year old, nor a child of any age, but this can easily happen if we fall for the short-term solutions. We end up being manipulated by our child for them to get their own way in life. If we look at what this looks like, we can see how we may give food or sweets to a screaming toddler, pacifying them with food. We can have the same response to a stroppy adolescent, buying pizza or a take-away, a new pair of shoes, a game, jacket, or whatever the price is to win so-called peace from the onslaught. The trouble is, in doing so, we set a standard that says:


‘If you act up, I will reward you.’


​The knock-on consequences impact every area of life. The child has learned the ‘if you act up, I will reward you’ standard and will exploit it endlessly. Where are we with this? If we reward the behaviour because we are looking for the tension of the presenting situation to go away, we are in trouble.

To reward poor behaviour in a child of any age is setting ourselves up for a real pickle. There are no real short-term benefits, only long-term consequences.


Short-term respite is a false promise, nothing is gained and much is lost.


Parenting strategies are needed for the long haul. Essentially, short-term relief is not worth it, it debases parenting. What are we selling ourselves out for?


Parenting can be an amazing process that supports our children to learn respectful and responsible forms of behaviour and communication. We can do it, we simply need to be willing to address the issue we are facing immediately. By holding steady in the face of ‘challenging’ behaviour we are saying that we are not going to be manipulated by ‘bad behaviour’, as opposed to reacting with a quick fix, which says, this button delivers treats!


What is presenting? Address it. Move on.

Anything less says ‘If you act up, I will reward you.’


Photo by Trần Long from Pexels