Misbehaviour seems to be one of the greatest challenges of our time. At least this is the sense I get when I observe families. I frequently attend media programs, who want to discuss this topic which only reinforces my hunch that we struggle with this matter; otherwise we would not be investing so much time in trying to understand its origins. Like an alchemist I feel compelled to search all corners of my memory to try and find some treatment plan which, not only magically exhausts all unwanted behaviour, but hopefully it does so in the least ammount of time possible.

Unfortunately, I have insofar failed. Up until now, I have only arrived to the realisation of my mistake to focus entirely on the child when dealing with their misbehaviour. And this is something that as a society we often do; we assume that the behaviour is the fault of the person committing it. Make no mistake, my argument today is not intended to excuse unacceptable behaviour. I think that social sanctions have existed for centuries and in my view they are very important to maintain social order. However I think that there is gain in grasping the underlying factors that lead a person to act in a way. And this is especially true when we deal with children’s misbehaviour.

Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness. He offers parent coaching and social work sessions. He can be contacted on steve@willingness.com.mt.