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 3

Why is my child being so difficult?

Why are ‘badly’ behaved children continually in search of counter-arguments? Why are they so defiant so much of the time? Why do they appear so strong-willed that they never seem to tire in their attempts to wear us down? In particular, why do they get so indignant? Where on earth does all their anger come from? Can their parents find a way to change them into the child that every parent should have? Can these children have the happy childhood to which they are entitled? We laugh at the ease with which TV and film scriptwriters create comic teenagers who nullify all attempts at logical argument and reasonableness. We laugh at the shared realisation that it is impossible to get them to behave reasonably using only reason. This is not just true for fictional children: parents with ‘badly’ behaving children constantly repeat their reasons and their logical arguments. Yet, constantly hearing logical and reasonable arguments does not, unfortunately, create a reasonable child.


It is a tactical fault for parents to ignore all evidence and continue to think children in dispute have, or can be made to have, an interest in reason and logic. In fact in ‘battles’ contentious youngsters are often only really interested in one thing. They are interested in outcomes. Children are entirely practical ‘now’ beings. In verbal battles with their parents, they are first of all interested in being rewarded by what is currently happening – that is to say this particular instant, the particular point reached in the cut and trust of the current argument. Next, they are interested in getting their own way and the rewards available in what ends up happening.

Rarely does ‘bad’ behaviour stem from lack of understanding. Children usually understand the logic of what parents are saying well enough to pounce the moment parents are inconsistent. It is not that the child does not get the sense or the logic in what their parents are saying their refusal serves another purpose. Sadly, it is often their parents who inadvertently supply and reward that purpose. Although they are quite capable of seeing the absurdity and lack of logic in their own position they never admit it. They bluster on. Why, because they know that if they hold on to their fabricated indignation, they will be rewarded? They know that their parents will simultaneously give them prizes for their ‘bad’ behaviour, even while condemning it. What parent would do this, you ask? The answer is - every parent with children that continually behave ‘badly’. There are no exceptions. The reason that each and every child behaves ‘badly’ is that they have parents that reward it. Each one of these children knows that their parents will provide them with one prize in particular, the one reward that no child can resist and each of their parents give – lots of attention. Next their parents constantly provide and maintain another perverse but natural and addictive joy - the joy of battle.

A different world

What parents think is happening during interactions with their children and what is really happening are very different. ‘Badly’ behaving children are like beings from another world. In the beginning all parents naturally know this. Nothing is as alien as a new baby to new parents. They are always amazed by their strangeness and by how much work and how much tiredness the tiny creature creates. At first it is easy for parents to remember that the baby is not at all like them. It is easy to remember that it comes from a completely different world: it is so clearly different. It does not talk, but makes noises to communicate its basic needs. Parents know that their job, if the baby is to survive, is to provide for these needs.

A baby is a natural dictator – its survival depends on it – and its new parents become its willing slaves. It is clear that this new being has no concept of the adult world and how things function. It cannot speak, so cannot ask. At this age it is overwhelmed by the strength of its needs. It has only one option – to demand. This is the first, the primary mode of communication between the baby and its parents. It is a quite natural and healthy state. It is like a light switch and has only two positions:

• ‘I feel good’

• ‘I do not feel good – I demand – notice me – make me feel better!’

This ‘on/off’ primary mode behaviour is natural and healthy – right up to the point when the baby begins to be able to signal what it wants. Being able to signal what is wanted is the crucial point for all babies. It marks the transition between babyhood and childhood. At this point the baby needs to be trained to leave behind the primary mode behaviour of babyhood and enter childhood.

Fighting not to enter childhood

©Copyright Warwick Dyer 2016

Interacting with a ‘badly’ behaved child still trapped in primary mode is like dealing with a different species from a different world. Baby behaviour is instinctive survival behaviour. It works because it has to work. The baby’s way is to demand – it has to demand. A child, on the other hand, does not. The child needs to be shown from their very first baby words, and by continuous example, that only asking works: demanding does not. Toddlers have no developmental or language-acquired mechanism for knowing when demanding is no longer needed. Correct social interaction is not acquired – as so many parents seem to believe – along with language, or naturally as part of the developmental process. It has to be carefully taught.

An impressive vocabulary does not imply social sensibility. The reverse is far more likely. A precocious vocabulary often masks from parents the child’s immaturity and their primary view of the world. It masks their child’s need for the basic training that will enable them to leave babyhood and enter childhood. If the child is lucky their parents begin to train them using the simple principle that we reveal later as the foundation or parental training. It is the training principle that children need to enter childhood. It is the principle they continue to need if they are to be happy and contented during childhood.

Unlucky children are allowed to continue to use their primary mode baby power in their attempts to get what they think they want. Holding on to behaviour that is only appropriate for a baby creates continuous conflict between child and parent within the family. Parents usually think that they are the victims in these conflicts but they are harmful to the child for a reason that parents rarely identify. Conflict - and it makes no difference if the child appears to win these conflicts - takes away the child’s sense of security. Children cannot feel secure in childhood if they are continuing to function as babies. Their ‘bad’ behaviour means that they have not yet accepted an undeniable truth of childhood. It is a truth that they have to accept if they are to feel secure. They have not accepted the fact that they are dependent.

Children will always be completely unaware that a happy childhood is defined by their acceptance of their dependency within it. Parents cannot afford to be unaware of this. Leaving babyhood and entering childhood is a change as significant and symbolic as leaving the womb and entering the world. At birth the baby leaves the symbiotic world it shared with its mother and is presented with the outside world as a fait accompli. Being fed symbiotically changes, at a stroke, to the need to find a nipple and suck. A fait accompli is also the best way to introduce the transition from babyhood to childhood. In one stroke, “I demand, give me what I want” has to change in tone to “May I have?” This transition is at the heart of our parenting ‘secret’. Getting the child’s tone to change to a polite request is not the cosmetic nicety that many parents think. It is vital. It involves the child’s acceptance of a vitally important reality, namely that their parents are the leaders in the home and they are dependent on them.

As a baby they were, of course, completely dependent, but it is at this toddler stage that they first need to become conscious of it. Consciousness of this dependency and acceptance of it is vital for every child’s sense of security and their early sense of identity. Unlike at the moment of birth, nature and instinct do not help with this second transition. Success is entirely dependent on how parents handle it.

All parental training is designed to enable the child to become less dependent but this training becomes extremely difficult if the child fails act as if they accept their dependence or if they already think they are independent. When they begin to be able to signal what they want, it is up to parents to make sure they understand that new methods are used in this new world of childhood. It is vital that the child understands that these methods are very different from those used in the old primary world. Crucially, they need to know that demands will no longer work and that getting what is wanted is dependent on parental agreement, dependent on their requesting. To accept dependency, children have to accept that what they want for themselves sometimes has to take second place to what their parents want for them. All ‘bad’ behaviour stems from this lack of acceptance. All ‘bad’ behaviour is at heart a challenge to leadership. It is a graphic illustration that the child does not trust or accept the parent’s current leadership behaviour. Children locked into babyhood, refusing to accept the dependency of childhood, have no idea of the security and contentment they are missing – how could they? Their primary desire to be noticed and get their own way becomes their only conscious goal. They end up feeling rewarded just as much by the struggle to get what they want as they would be by eventually getting it. The mystery to be solved by parents with problem children is not how to be more persuasive or how to be better at using reason: it is to understand what really rewards and maintains ‘bad’ behaviour. ‘Good’ behaviour is not natural or instinctive in an environment in which parents unknowingly are still rewarding demand behaviour. This does not necessarily mean they are giving in to it. The attention given to challenging and demanding behaviour can become a reward in itself.

The first definition of a ‘badly’ behaved child

“A child for whom natural ‘baby’ primary mode attitudes and behaviour have been allowed to continue into childhood” Continuing to use the baby’s methods of getting their own way may be very unpleasant for parents and they may mistake it for a flaw in their child’s development or personality but it is not. It only continues because on some level it is still being effective. It still works because parents inadvertently still allow it to work. This is the reason that whenever we talk about ‘bad’ behaviour in this book, we put the word ‘bad’ in quotes. Children cannot be considered to be behaving ‘badly’ when each of them has parents who unknowingly reward the behaviour they are trying to eradicate.

Constant challenging of parental decisions creates an imbalance that is truly ludicrous. Children are clearly dependent on their parents by every measure available, but nevertheless put themselves, are allowed to put themselves, in the position of challenging the leadership on which they depend. It is impossible for any child who is constantly doing this to feel completely safe. The true victims of ‘bad’ behaviour are never the child’s parents. The ‘badly’ behaving child is the true victim; they are the ones that lose the comfort and security of childhood. They are the ones that are dependent on their parents to restore childhood. We traditionally call what they do “bad behaviour” a far more accurate definition would be ‘insecure behaviour’.

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©Copyright Warwick Dyer 2016

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