Behaviour org uk

How Parents Create 'Badly' Behaved Children
And How To Reverse the Process


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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 35
Chapter 36
Chapter 37
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 41
Chapter 42
Chapter 43
Chapter 44
Chapter 45
Chapter 46
Chapter 47
Chapter 48
Chapter 49
Chapter 50
Restoring Childhood
How We Create 'Badly' Behaved Children
©Copyright Warwick Dyer 2016
(Copyright Unedited Beta Version)
(To be read online only)

Book One

Chapter 1

Why do children become "badly" behaved?

This book is really a detective story: not so much a ‘who-dun-it’ but more ‘how-does-it-happen’. We set out to discover what it is in every generation that makes some children, often with highly intelligent and sophisticated parents, become seriously ‘badly’ behaved and unhappy. To discover how the relationships between children and their parents become strained and nightmarish. We strive to discover why these children lose their childhood by constantly clamouring have or do the things their parents deny. We seek to explain why so many develop a pervasive dissatisfaction about most of what their parents ask them to do and an insatiable need to always get their own way. Running in tandem with this mystery is another that needs an explanation. Why is the process of raising children for some parents almost idyllic? How do they achieve this? What is it that they do that produces children that are well behaved and feel secure and contented? They manage to give their children the gift of a happy childhood. Why do they not share their secret with the many other parents who clearly need it? Perhaps the answer to this last question is that this secret is just as much a mystery to those who have it as it is to those who don’t.

This book is in two parts. Book One we answer the question of ‘Why Children Become ‘Badly’ Behaved?’ and explain how children lose their childhood with futile attempts to gain fulfilment from getting their own way. In Book Two we reveal The Parenting Secret and give The Detail of how to use it to Restore Childhood to Insecure Children. We hope by the end of this book parents will feel that they have all the tools they need to eradicate ‘bad’ behaviour.

I am reminded of the time when Alfred Hitchcock was promoting his film ‘Psycho’. He made a big deal out of the fact that nobody, under pain of death almost, should find out the secret at the heart of the film before they got to the end. I make the same entreaty now. All detective stories make us wait until they reveal the secret truth that underpins the story and we all understand why. It is less obvious why a book about the secret of producing happy secure and happy children would make the reader wait. It is not as if the secret we will be progressing towards is complex. In fact all it consists of is one particular, specific, typical, ritualised interaction between a parent and a toddler. It takes the form of a scene that many parents will have seen enacted in many homes in many countries. Its importance lies in the realisation that parents can use it as a template for all the subsequent times that they need to correct their child’s behaviour. It is not the complexity of the right path that prevents us revealing it. It is the complexity of the maze either side of it. If we were to reveal it right at the start parents would not accept it because it seems too simplistic. Without considerable prior evidence struggling parents would not take it seriously. They need to understand and explore the chaos that is created when they fail to enact it.

Step off the path and enter the maze

Parents are reluctant to believe that the massive problems they have with their child’s behaviour could have a simple cause. On the contrary they often come to believe that serious ‘bad’ behaviour must have a serious cause. They believe it must stem from a deep-seated problem. One clue that the problem is not deep-seated is the fact that responded to correctly ‘bad’ behaviour can be changed so quickly. With the correct advice parents can change serious ‘bad’ behaviour very quickly. In fact the speed itself might worry some observers. The change can be so fast that some might think that a deep-seated problem has been left untouched. They might worry that only the symptoms have changed and that something seriously amiss had been left untouched underneath. However, there is a very good reason why they do not need to worry about this.

‘Bad’ behaviour is only a symptom

‘Bad’ behaviour is only symptom. It is the symptom of a problem that is very different from the ones that parents imagine. Parents fail to find the solutions they seek because they look in the wrong place. They think that their child’s ‘bad’ behaviour signifies something. They think it proves that their child is something: that their child is strong-willed or is lacking in understanding or some essential quality; or that their child is selfish or spiteful or unappreciative, or is manipulative or violent or nasty. They may even believe that their child is held sway by some hereditary factor from parents or grandparents or that some past trauma is still driving them. Worse still, some start to believe that their child is morally flawed or has a damaged or disordered personality.

It is fine when parents believe that ‘good’ behaviour says something fundamental about their child: that it proves, for instance, that their child ‘is’ kind or a loving person. However, it is far from fine when they believe that ‘bad’ behaviour tells them there is something fundamentally wrong with their child. Although it may not be unreasonable for parents to believe that behaviour, often so dramatic and extreme, has a dramatic and extreme cause this belief is almost always mistaken. Parents always need to ask: “What is there, apart from the ‘bad’ behaviour itself, to suggest that there is anything underpinning it?”

Even when behaviour is extremely serious or dangerous, it makes no sense to make assumptions about the child’s character or infer the existence of underpinning traumas or disorders – not if this is based solely on their ‘bad’ behaviour. The time honoured medical assumption the more serious the symptom the more serious the cause just does not work with behaviour. My experience suggests that it is far safer to assume that the intensity of the child’s behaviour simply mirrors the intensity of their parent’s past and present reaction to it. Extreme behaviour problems are almost always circular: it is always the parent’s reaction to a behaviour that acts as a generator that makes the child repeat and escalate it.

The parents I speak to often have completely unrealistic expectations of young children. Some of the most extreme behaviour I have worked with came from children with parents who expected them to act in ways that were developmentally impossible for any child.

‘Bad’ behaviour is interactive

©Copyright Warwick Dyer 2016

There is a very good reason why ‘bad’ behaviour can tell us nothing about the children displaying it. The reason is that it is impossible for children to behave ‘badly’ by themselves. Alone on a desert island, they would not be able to misbehave. ‘Bad’ behaviour needs another person, and not just any other person. Bad’ behaviour requires the existence of a person that the child perceives as being, or is trying to be, in authority.

‘Bad’ behaviour requires an authority figure. There can be no ‘bad’ behaviour without an authority figure to object. Parents always respond to the ‘bad’ things their children do – they always do something. Even when they ignore what their children do, their ignoring is a heavily charged ‘something’; they are responding. It is the logical necessity for children to see what their parents do following their behaviour as a response to it that makes all ‘bad’ behaviour interactive.

Whether ‘bad’ behaviour increases or decreases, it is always deeply dependent on the interactions that each child has with the person they see as the authority figure. Even children with major neurological or mental defects, illnesses or disorders have carers who respond. They have carers who constantly attempt to manage the interactions they have with them. The less importance given by our child to our response, the more important it becomes. A severely autistic child will appear not to notice us, but our response is precious. It is precious because it is the only mechanism available to move the autistic child, or for that matter any child, closer to social fulfilment.

The only remedy available

There is only one remedy for inappropriate behaviour. It does not make any difference whether the child has a disorder or not, there is still only one remedy. Rule out drugs and there is just one thing, one variable, available to a parent that has the power to bring about change. It is… what parents do in response.

Parents sometimes make assumptions about their child that they would never make about an adult relative. They forget that children make decisions autonomously, and parents sometimes act as if they believe they have direct access to their child’s mind and that their instructions can or should have a direct effect there. But of course they do not and they cannot: every child will always make up their own mind. Adults have no direct access to the internal decision-making process that children go through when they decide to behave in a particular way.

These facts are of course obvious, but some parents seem not to have internalised them. They seem not to have accepted that if they want to change the decisions their children make; when saying ‘you will do it’ does not work, then the method used has to be indirect. Parents have to fall back on what they do in response. They have to because together with what they put in place before this is all that there is. What the parents do following (or sometimes before) the behaviour is the only thing that can affect it. This is so simple a statement and so undeniably true, yet I am convinced that even some professionals have failed to completely internalise and recognise its simple truth. Fortunately, this same variable – the parents’ response – is also the one over which parents have, or can be trained to have, direct and complete control. ‘Bad’ behaviour always occurs during, before, after or in spite of an interaction with a parent. These interactions are central to the ‘bad’ behaviour. It is futile for parents to focus, as most do, only on the child. The child has the power to behave badly during interactions with parents. The child has no power to change the quality of these interactions. More important still, the child has no power to change the outcome of these interactions.

If parents want to change their child’s behaviour, they need to prepare themselves for a shock. They know that their children behave ‘badly’ in spite of them. They are often shocked when they discover that their children behave ‘badly’ because of them. It may be very uncomfortable but the logical progression runs like this:

‘if ‘bad’ behaviour is always interactive and if parents are the only ones that can alter these interactions then children always behave ‘badly’ because of their parents’

Parents only begin to see how true this is when they realise that ‘bad’ behaviour has, can have, no reality of its own. With ‘bad’ behaviour context is everything. On its own, it is not real; it has no significance. It tells us nothing about the children displaying it. Except, that is, one thing. It tells us that each of these children has a parent who is attempting to stop their child’s ‘bad’ behaviour using methods that sustain or increase it. It tells us that these children have parents who have walked through the door marked ‘parenting fault’. On the wrong side of this door a child’s behaviour appears complex and parents then assume, wrongly, that this complexity emanates from their child.


©Copyright Warwick Dyer 2016

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