Faculty‎ > ‎Counselor‎ > ‎Counselor Notes‎ > ‎

035 - Goals of Misbehavior

posted Dec 1, 2015, 1:09 PM by Doug Muha

Counselor Notes 35

February 13, 2015

Goals of Misbehavior Chart

Part of parenting is effectively dealing with children's behavior.  One of the more helpful ways of looking at children’s misbehavior is a chart from http://www.docstoc.com/docs/25038914/Mistaken-Goals-Chart .  It may not be perfect, but it seems at least a good starting point to view children’s misbehavior and how adults should respond.  Those that want more detail on the approach of the chart’s author are advised to read the book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson.  There is also information on her web site: http://www.positivediscipline.com/   


Here is the chart.  I hope parents find it useful. 


If theCHILD’S goal is…

Undue Attention

(to keep others busy or get special service)


(to be the boss)


(to get even)

Assumed Inadequacy(to give up and be left alone)

If the PARENT feels:

- Annoyed

- Irritated

- Worried

- Guilty

- Angry

- Provoked

- Challenged

- Threatened

- Defeated

- Hurt

- Disappointed

- Disbelieveing

- Disgusted


- Despair

- Hopeless

- Helpless

- Inadequate

And tends to react by:

- Reminding

- Coaxing

- Doing things for the child that he/she could do for him/herself

- Fighting

- Giving in

- Thinking “You can’t get away with it” or “I’ll make you”

- Wanting to be right

- Retaliating

- Getting even

- Thinking “How could you do this to me?”

- Taking behavior personally

- Giving up

- Doing for

- Over helping

- Showing discouragement

And if the child’s response is:

Stops temporarily, but later resumes same or another disturbing behavior

- Intensifies behavior

- Defiant compliance

- Feels he/she won when parents are upset

- Passive power

- Retaliates

- Hurts others

- Damages property

- Gets even

- Escalates the same behavior


- Retreats further

- Passive

- No improvement

- No response

If the BELIEF behind the CHILD’S behavior is:

- I count (belong) only when I’m being noticed or getting special service

- I’m only important when I’m keeping you busy with me

- I belong only when I’m boss or in control, or proving no one can boss me

- “You can’t make me”

- I don’t think I belong so I’ll hurt others as I feel hurt

- I can’t be liked or loved

- I don’t believe I can so I’ll convince others not to expect anything of me

- I am helpless and unable; it’s no use trying because I won’t do it right

What theCHILD NEEDS and what ADULTS can do to ENCOURAGE

Notice Me – Involve Me

- Redirect by involving child in a useful task

- “I love you and ___” (example: “I love you and will spend time with you later.”)

- Avoid service

- Say it only once, then act

- Plan special time

- Set up routines

- Take time for training

- Use family meetings

- Touch without words

- Set up nonverbal signals


Let Me Help – Give Me Choices

- Decide what you will do

- Let routines be the boss

- Get help from the child to set reasonable and few limits

- Practice follow through

- Redirect to positive power

- Use family meetings

- Acknowledge that you can’t make him/her and ask for his/her help

- Offer limited choices

- Withdraw from conflict and calm down

- Be firm and kind

- Act, don’t talk

Help Me I’m Hurting

- Apologize

- Avoid punishment and retaliation

- Show you care

 - Encourage strengths

 - Use family meetings

- Deal with the hurt feelings “Your behavior tells me you must feel hurt.  Can we talk about that?”

- Use reflective listening

- Don’t take behavior personally

- Share your feelings

Have Faith In Me – Don’t Give Up On Me

- Take time for training

- Take small steps

- Make the task easier until the child experiences success

- Show faith

- Encourage any positive attempt no matter how small

- Don’t give up

- Enjoy the child

- Build on his/her interests

- Encourage, encourage, encourage

- Use family meetings



Doug Muha Ed.S.
School Counselor
Waverly Elementary School