Mistaken Behavior

Question: I am writing a paper on the difference and how to use guidance to distinguish and facilitate them.

Could you please tell me the difference between mistaken behavior and misbehavior?


Answer: I love this question because I love spreading the word about this concept.

Every experience counts for children, and that includes every interaction parents and caregivers have with them. If every child is entitled to having the finest experiences, then every parent and caregiver should know how to provide them.

There are two totally different ways to react to the same child behavior when it comes to each of these concepts. In addition, there is one correct way to begin either reaction.

Correct Beginning

You must first “separate the behavior from the child. Just think about the behavior that happened as being totally separate from the child who did it. Then treat it totally as an entity on its own.

This separation does something very important for you right then and there. It gives you a positive attitude that will protect your child. Then whatever turns out to be the case, mistaken or misbehavior, your message will be helpful and not hurtful to your child. “You do not like what happened, but you love your child.”

Next you will find yourself in a much better position to evaluate fairly what happened and follow that with your reaction for a mistake or for misbehavior.  


Child Behavior: Nathan pushed Meghan.

Reaction for a Mistake

Maybe Meghan was in Nathan’s way for some reason, and he could not figure out for the moment the right way to get her to move or to go around her. Then you can nicely and respectfully teach Nathan how not to make the same mistake again, the exact goal of all behavior problem solving.

Reaction for Misbehavior

Maybe Nathan pushes all the time, and this is one more example of his repeated problem. Then you can now from a loving point of view teach Nathan alternative actions for when he gets angry, frustrated or feels mistreated. When you in your own mind isolate out behavior from the whole child, you reduce your anger about the situation and keep separate and protected your love for the child. In that way you increase your ability to focus on the problem and can more easily accomplish the real goal of teaching the child how not to make the same mistake again.

Now you see why I love this question. I hope you will enjoy this answer … and spread the word!

Dr. Sally

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