behavioral issues

5 Bad Kid Behavior Issues That You Need to Break Early

I hate going to the dentist. I know it’s necessary, but I always put it off. It is the last thing I want to spend money on. After several years of avoiding it, I was forced to make an appointment because of intense tooth pain. The result was exactly what I expected. Small cavities had grown into larger decay which eventually led to infection. Ultimately, smaller and cheaper cavity fixes turned into an expensive double root canal with two crowns. Routine checkups and maintenance would have prevented all of it.

In the same way, kids can develop bad habits early. Engaging those habits with consistent correction and guidance can be tiring. It can take thought and energy that can wear parents out. However, if left unchecked, they can grow into major problems down the line. It is important to engage the problem now in order to save them and us from more intense pain in the future. Here are some bad kid behavioral issues that you need to break early.

1. Lying

This leads to a life of secrecy. Growth and maturity come when we deal honestly with our mistakes and shortcomings. We learn responsibility by owning it. Others see us as dependable, faithful, and authentic. Trust is built leading to healthy relationships. Lying has the opposite effect. Distrust and immaturity take root. On a personal level, in our house, my kids know that this offense receives the steepest consequence because it, more than anything, causes relational separation in the family.

2. Disrespectful to Authority

We are all people under authority in some way or another. Parents, teachers, government officials, elders, bosses, and police officers are some of the authorities in our lives. An attitude of disrespecting authority creates a dangerous habit in a child. It will lead to an attitude of entitlement and a lack of proper humility. They will end up suffering for it as their options are limited. Children need to learn a respectful disposition to those in authority over them. This doesn’t mean they can’t disagree with that authority or challenge it, particularly when the authority abuses its power. However, it is important to teach children to always submit to or challenge authority with grace and respect.

3. Unkind Words

Words are important. Clearly the words we choose affect those they are directed towards. Unkind words cause deep wounds in people; however, they can also lead our general attitude or our feelings about someone. I once made a decision to go an entire year saying only positive things about someone I had a hard time getting along with. After the year, I felt completely different about that person. There may be time to disagree, argue, or even fight, but there is never a reason to be unkind. The earlier our kids develop a vocabulary of kind words the better.

4. Aggressive Behavior

Intervene as soon as possible to prevent other children or animals from being hurt. There are many reasons for a child exhibiting aggressive behavior. It is important to find out the reason by observing and listening. Many times, it is a coping mechanism in dealing with stress or feelings of insecurity. If the behavior is allowed or reinforced, it will continue. It is best to stop it immediately when it happens, remain calm, listen to the child, and enforce consistent nonphysical consequences.

5. Laziness

Children need to be taught to take responsibility for themselves early. Otherwise they can come to expect that their parents will do everything for them. Instilling a good work ethic starts by giving them chores to do around the house at a young age. Start by teaching them to make their bed and clean up their toys daily. When they develop a habit of taking care of their things, add a chore pertaining to a common area. Encourage and reward their work only when it deserves it. This will teach them to value and strive for good work. Starting as early as possible will make all the difference.

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Sound Off

What is the hardest bad behavior you have confronted in your child?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Robert Brock

    The hardest bad behavior I have confronted with my 3-year old is him telling us “no” when we need him to do something (brush his teeth, put on his shoes, bath time, etc). We try to practice some patience when this happens and explain that mom and dad know what’s best for him and that he needs to listen to mom and dad. Once we have that talk he is usually very receptive and seems to understand.

  • Clearanceman2 .

    No kidding, stuff that’s cute at 3 is horrible at 15.

  • Providential Pathways Ministry

    #2 should be clarified.

    I was taught to respect & obey authority. But, it only got be abused and molested over most of my life! So, BEFORE you teach a child to respect & obey authority you need to teach a child that authority should always be questioned before it’s respected.

    It doesn’t matter if the authority is a parent, step parent, grandparent, teacher, preacher, boss or policeman. I was beaten, molested or otherwise abused by all of the above. Your child needs to be taught certain boundaries & restrictions are completely acceptable when it comes to submitting to any authority.

    • BJ_Foster

      Very good and important point. I am terribly sorry to hear that you were violated in such a way, particularly from people that should have been caring for your well being the most. Thank you for your willingness to share.

  • Rob Thorpe

    “However, it is important to teach children to challenge authority with grace and respect.” – seriously? Feeling like you have to explain your decision to your young child is nonsense. If the policeman says stop – you stop. If the boss says “be back at 1:00pm – you’re back at 1:00pm. In my day, that was called “because I said so”.

    “Avoiding non-physical consequences” also avoids what the Bible clearly teaches. Room for abuse? Sure. But we can’t obey only the parts of the Bible we like? God knows much better than we do what our children need and He is not making holy suggestions.
    Appreciate the heart, but respectfully disagree (having raised 3 sons who are all followers of Christ, married and have children of their own).

    • Leslie Templeton

      If authority tells you to jump off a cliff, do you really want your sons jumping off a cliff?

      • gonnahitcharide

        Of course not, Leslie. The article does state that one can CHALLENGE authority BUT with grace and respect.

    • John Saunders

      Can we leave the Bible out of the advice and give the day to day practical info. Kids these days are reluctant to actually follow the teachings of an abstract thing. They are more aware than most parents are. They want real world help

      • BJ_Foster

        Interesting thought John. I’ve always found the Bible to be very applicable and practical in speaking into all of my life’s situations. However, I would agree that many parents simply say, “The Bible says (this) about this issue and therefore that’s the answer, end of story.” In that scenario the kid is not able to connect the two and it ends up being abstract – just like you said. When a parent uses the Bible he or she needs to make the connection for the child and discuss what it teaches, why, and how that should influence our attitudes and behavior moving forward. When that is done well I think it is very much real world help. Perhaps the best real world help.

  • Cassandra Sabrina Powell

    What if you’ve had trouble breaking those behaviors. What do you do then?

  • Rob C

    Re #1…a rule that we use in our house is “never punish honesty”. It gives the kids that extra protection to tell us what’s going on without fear, or rather without reprisal. Yes there are consequences for actions, but no additional punishment. So if he breaks the lamp and comes and tells us right away, he may be made to buy the new one but no groundling or privilege loss. So far it’s one of my favorite rules in our house.

  • Honordads

    Dynamite list. #2 (and pretty much all the rest) is a lot easier when Mom demonstrates and reinforces respect for Dad’s authority at home. I know, old school. But it works.

    • Leslie Templeton

      No, this enforces gender norms and can actually restrict the children, and make males believe they are superior to women, and females that they are inferior to men. This can lead to daughters thinking being raped is okay because of “male authority.” Many experts say the healthiest relationship to demonstrate is where both partners have equal authority, and one does not dominate another. That way any gender child learns to speak up for wants or diswants, and feel in control of their environment, being respectful to one another.

    • Cherie Sheffer

      This comment immediately inspired frustration and disappointment because it reinforces the stereotype that all Christian men are patriarchal, misogynistic relics of a very sad time. HOWEVER, I have to give an unknown person the benefit of the doubt and, on second glance, I agree with you. I agree AS LONG as the same is true vice versa. Mom and Dad should both reinforce and respect the other’s authority as heads of the family.

      • Eric J. Martindale

        I don’t want to speak for him, but I think he’s referring to Biblical headship, ala Genesis, Ephesians 5, I Cor 11, etc. In other words, voluntary position vs domination.

  • Eric J. Martindale

    Correcting these behaviors may seem intuitive, but I think we all can be guilty of overlooking at least some of them, at least at times. As I read through that list, I can think of some adults who are plagued by those behaviors and how painful some of those relationships have been.

  • Darrell G. Walton

    As a single dad when my son was growing up he was an extremely beyond the norm strong willed boy. I did my all to try to break all of the aforementioned even with the help of teachers and other professional counselings.

    My son with age progressively rebelled against the teachings and consequenscial disciplines of all 5 to where in the teen years I had to summon help from the police when things got out of hand in the house.

    I only survived him with strong support and encouragement from my men’s group at church.

    Peace didn’t come back to my life until he made the decision as an “adult” to permanently part ways.

    Don’t beat yourself up if you did your all before God to be dad and it didn’t work. Also don’t protect or make excuses out of your own shame and embarrassment during their raising or as an adult for uncalled for behaviors.

    Protect and maintain your reputation, dignity, and respect, amongst your peers and community and let go. Let your kids adult actions be on them and only pray for them from afar as to keep it all and them with God.

    Never let your home be the refuge of where they run to hide from the consequences of the wrongs they’ve willfully have done to others! Protect your peace!

    • BJ_Foster

      Very well said. I’m so sorry Darrell. I prayed for you and your son this morning.

  • gonnahitcharide

    Great article, and I’d like to ask whatnot is or was the “steepest consequence” for lying in your household?

    Also, the link in number 4 (nonphysical consequences) does not go to the right place. Could it either be fixed or link me here to the correct article/list?

    Thank you very much.

    • BJ_Foster

      Thank you! They lose the thing most precious to them. The amount of time sometimes varies depending on the type of lie. The worst one was my son lost his video game privilege for 2 months. If the lying continued he would lose it for more time or perhaps we would sell it. Fortunately, it has not gotten to that place. Thank you for the link info, it has been updated.

      • gonnahitcharide

        Thank you for the follow-up reply, BJ, and for fixing the link. This all helps. Very much appreciated!

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