Misbehavin' A to Z: When Behavior Becomes Misbehavior

Misbehavin' A to Z: When Behavior Becomes Misbehavior

by EdD Carol M. Hoffman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504388184
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 09/29/2017
Pages: 190
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.44(d)

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Attention is one of the most important needs and wants of human beings. Those needs and wants last a lifetime. When children and adults seem to get enough positive attention in their daily lives, they are seen by others as "good kids" and "wonderful neighbors" and "active, loving old people who still do volunteer work and go dancing."

We often call attention-seeking children an itch we can't scratch. On the other hand, for reasons that seem logical, children attention-seekers are more appealing to us than adult attention-seekers who we tend to call a pain in the butt.

Children who feel they don't get enough positive attention will learn a pattern of behavior that is annoying – mostly what we'd say clowning around, making noises, chewing gum and blowing bubbles that pop with just the right volume. The misbehavior is not serious, and the misbehavior stops for awhile – until the next time. In schools, most students who clown around but don't overdo it are actually liked by the teachers and classmates. They are attention-seekers we can live with. They don't physically hurt others. What's more, we see many of them on TV. They are our comedians!

Kids who do not receive positive attention at home find that negative behavior can get them attention when they push smaller kids off the swing or yell, kick or stick a pin in someone's balloon. Negative attention is better than no attention at all for attention-starved children. Attention-seeking behavior is the mildest, less serious form of misbehavior, although that behavior is annoying – it ticks us off and temporarily requires our response. Attention-seekers will annoy us, for sure. They will interrupt us just when it's the last thing we want them to do. And our patience will be tried, time and again. In school, the first name of the most attention-seeking student will be heard frequently throughout the school day. Remember Cassandra? She's a good example of an attention-seeker. How do you think she behaves at home? How do you think her parents cope with her antics, pranks and jokes? It's doubtful her parents find everything she does easy to overlook. It's more likely they wish their daughter would display behavior that could be described as positive and acceptable.

Getting attention in positive ways tells us we are worthy of notice – that we feel we have an important place with others – that we actually matter to those in our family and those in school and those in the community.

I belong!

I fit with people I want to fit with!

I never want to feel like I'm on the outside, looking in!

As for how adults can best respond to those who are wearing them out with annoyances, whining, yelling and arguing, try ignoring as much of the misbehavior as possible. If that isn't an option, assign a logical consequence. In general, the best time to give attention-seekers positive attention is when they are not seeking it! Teachers are pretty successful at reducing negative behavior. Most attention-seekers will never totally give up that behavior. Sometimes, reducing unwanted behavior is the best we can do.

We've begun our travel with the letter A. There are 25 more letters to visit. Let's make sure we inject some humor and minor mischief here and there. Before we get to the letter B, you need to have some clues – to avoid feeling overwhelmed by 25 more topics. Just keep in mind that each of the remaining 25 letters are related, intertwined and connected to Attention. It all begins with A. Many practical ideas will be offered – in plain language. Once we're through the alphabet, roll up your sleeves and be ready to try out new ideas.

FYI. Attention will soon merge with three other letters of the alphabet to form a concept that further explains behavior and misbehavior. This concept is easy to understand and is called The Four Goals of Misbehavior. Rooted in common sense, each Goal will be explored. Attention happens to be Goal 1 of the Four Goals. Things will become clearer as we move along in alphabetical order.

For now, let us B




There's a little humor with BUT so please humor me. Sorry if I sometimes stray from the seriousness of a topic and offend someone. A heavy topic needs a little lightness now and then.

Adults communicate far too often in conversations with one another – family, friends, co-workers – in ways that can mess up a relationship. They tend to be totally unaware that the way they sometimes speak to others is not helping the relationship. Until a good observer catches them mis-using their BUT and mentions it to them, they'll likely find themselves either angering or hurting others' feelings into the future.

Here is an actual conversation overheard a few years ago.

Vera comes down the stairs wearing a new outfit. Charlie is drinking coffee in the kitchen. He acknowledges her with a nod and goes back to reading the sports page. Vera makes a 360 turn in front of him and then says, " I didn't hear the wolf whistle when I came down the stairs." Charlie finally looks up from the newspaper and says, "Didn't I? Oh, sorry." – and returns to his paper. Vera is getting impatient. She comes right out and asks him what he thinks of her new outfit. Charlie finally awakens to his dilemma. He says, "Oh, I thought you wore that to Sharon's wedding – when was that? About ten years ago?"

Vera explodes, then calms down. Charlie attempts to vindicate himself, smiles and says, "It's nice BUT you looked thinner in the dress you wore to Sharon's wedding."

Charlie showed his BUT and Vera left the room in a huff. No more conversations between them that day.

Charlie is like many of us who show their BUT fairly often. We don't realize that once the word BUT is said right after a compliment, the one who just got butted only hears the words that come after the but. The compliment at the beginning of the sentence is forgotten.

Here's a situation shared by a mother who learned to reduce her But.

A mother of two children – a girl and a boy. – loves her kids and gives them lots of healthy attention. The girl is 7 and the boy is 5. Both have daily chores to do. The chores are appropriate to the interests and ages of the kids. The mother's one negative issue is that she shows her BUT too much. On a typical Saturday – when most chores are required of both kids, she notices her daughter has completed all but one of her "jobs." She says, "Way to go Katie. Snoopy knows his food is coming soon."

As she sees her son heading for the TV, she shouts, "Cameron Lee Jones!" as her son seeks his channel. "You made your bed and way to go BUT you didn't put your socks in the hamper and you didn't hang up your good jacket and you didn't feed the cat and now you have your hands on the remote, probably trying to watch a channel I don't want you to watch!"

Mom storms out of the room in a bad mood, leaving her son to turn off the TV and his sister to giggle at his discomfort. Cameron turns to face his older sister. He asks, "How come Mom always calls me Cameron Lee Jones when she's mad at me? She never calls you Katie Marie Jones?"

Mom's But opened up another issue - the Favorite Child syndrome. Lots of luck with that hornet's nest. For sure my husband and I loved and cared for and about all three of our children. There was no favoritism. Jill was the first born, so she was our favorite first child. Ted was the first-born of the twins and also our second child – so he was our favorite second child. Tod was the second-born twin and also our third child, which made Tod our favorite third child.

How could they argue with that? Well, sometimes they did.

Still, they grew up to be perfect adults.

For now, O SAY CAN YOU C?




Caring is a word that means different things to different people. For example, if you are caring for a sick child, you are the caregiver. If your aging mother is caring for her grandchildren while their mother is working, your mother is the caregiver. Sometimes she's even called the caretaker. Why? Because she always tells her friends she is "taking care" of her grandchildren.

The word Caring is so essential to human growth and development and a healthy mind and body, it's hard to know where to begin. So let's begin here.

Love and Caring do not mean the same thing – at least to me. My strong belief my whole adult life is that Caring is more important than Loving. Of course, the capacity to love and receive love are important throughout our lives. Still, some people give love to others who take advantage of them – to others who take love without returning it. That's misbehavior. Pretending to love another yet faking it is misbehavior.

Bess was taken advantage of. She sings mournfully about it in a song from the 1934 George Gershwin opera, Porgie and Bess. Twenty-five years later, it was made into a popular movie. In the movie, Bess suggests maybe she really ought to quit "Lovin' Dat Man Of Mine." She knows her love for him is on a one-way street.

Love can be turned on and off throughout our lives. Caring, however, needs to go on forever. It must.

Caring is connected with Attention – our first alphabet letter just two doors back at A.

Caring is first felt in sensory ways by an infant as he receives attention from his mother, father or someone else who truly cares about him. Although the infant won't "remember" this early caring, he will be influenced by the sensory benefit of that caring. He feels good about it. It calms him, it warms him, it nourishes him, it gives him comfort whenever he needs it. By the time that well-cared-for infant reaches about three years of age, he is on his way to creating a happier adult life than those babies who never received the constant, appropriate caring of ideal caregivers. Caring and Loving join together very early in the hearts of parents and grandparents and others in a baby's and toddler's beginnings. Those are the most fortunate children.

In summing up two concepts that should be easy to explain, I realize I may have complicated things. Here goes again.

The best argument I have to offer to my belief that Caring is more important than Loving is this: Caring is more of a DOING thing. LOVE is more of a FEELINGS thing. What's more, how many people can you actually love in your life? You know – true and lasting love? Four? Ten? Thirty?

On the other hand, how many people can you actually Care for and about in your life? I want to say ALL OF THEM! We can care for people we know but don't really love. How often has a neighbor or co-worker or relative gone through a bad patch in her life? You might not love her – heck, you might not even like her that much - but surely you can care about her well-being.

When interviewing teacher candidates, we made sure we asked each one this question: "If you are hired for this position, will you love all your students?" Wow. You should have seen how they almost lost their composure, shifting in their seat, figuring out how to respond, fearful of saying, "yes" and also fearful of saying, "no."

You may think that's not a fair question of a potential Rookie teacher. Oh, but it is. It's not only fair, it tells a great deal about a person's ability to handle hardballs in his/her daily work with kids – and ultimately, their parents. Today's teachers often see themselves as entering a combat zone when they cross the threshold of their classroom.

To clarify that question about loving all their students, we don't let the candidate continue to wrestle too long in silence before responding. We say something like, "We're not looking for you to answer that question with a "yes." You see, we believe it's not realistic to ask our teachers to love all their students but rather that they care about them. In fact, we want all our teachers to care for and about every kid in their class."

The relief on the Rookie's face is priceless to behold.

Caring is the birth of Empathy.

Some really smart influential people have even suggested that without early sensory and caring-loving in the first year of a child's life, he may never develop empathy. If that doesn't scare the devil out of us, I don't know what will. What are the consequences of a young child not receiving the right kind of caring and love from the adults in her life? Here is my response:


Too harsh? No, too true. Far, far too many of this nation's children are entering school as damaged goods. If they were neither loved nor cared about at home, why would we expect them to enter the front door of the school as anything but damaged goods?

Care about those kids. Care about them every day. Never give up believing you can make a positive difference. And never give up on a damaged child's individual capacity to strive and thrive – to transcend life at home with new and positive possibilities for a better future – during the school day.

Early childhood teachers can make the biggest impact on children who enter school damaged in physical, emotional and social ways. This is not to say teachers of older students cannot make a positive impact. They can. And in so many school districts, they do. One way will be explored when we reach the letter J.

For now, however, we move along to the letter D




Wanna get rich? People tell us to play the Lottery. Or at least scratch cards. Some people play on a regular Friday afterwork basis. They advise us to "Keep away from those two dollar ones. They're all losers."

I'm told by several people that they only buy $20 cards. "Those are your best chance for a winner."

While standing in line to get a fuel receipt, I ask the person in front of me who is buying a $20 card, "How many twenty-dollar cards do you buy over a week's time?" She kind of cocks her head – as if she was thinking about the question – then scratches her head (she's good at scratching – you know – from scratching so many Lottery tickets).

Finally, she tells me, "Oh, only one twenty-dollar card. Plus three five- dollar cards and. ... um. ... two one- dollar cards." My own mastery of arithmetic tells me this person spends $37 dollars a week on scratch cards.

I'm shocked! This woman is pregnant with her second child. (The toddler who is grabbing candy bars from the shelves is her first-born).

$$$$ are very important to human beings on what is likely a global basis. Americans don't have to travel to exotic islands or go on a cruise any more to gamble for $$$$. All they have to do now is hop in their car or on a casino bus that will take them to the nearest casino. Like Walmarts and a variety of Dollar stores, Casinos seem to be getting nearer and nearer to home. Soon there will be one in your neighborhood.

Now I'm not knocking people's love affair with casinos and scratch tickets and major Lottery tickets – only last week I bought three $3 dollar scratch cards at the local fuel station – one for my husband, one for our son and one for me. Did we win? Well, our son and I won nothing except the rising hope of a winner – only to be crushed by the loss of $6.00 and a vow to never buy another scratch card. Maybe my son's and my total loss was because we used a penny to scratch. Do you think it might help if we had used a nickel or a dime to scratch?

As for my husband's card, it turned out to be a free card. What kind of gambling is that? It turns out his free card won another free card which, when scratched, won nothing but silver dust on top of the kitchen counter.

What does gambling have to do with behavior or misbehavior? Lots. Gambling is about money and money issues appear to be a big reason people fight, hurt each other and divorce. Money issues can hurt other relationships – like friendships – and cause them to break apart. By now money issues could have surpassed sex issues as the #1 reason marriages and relationships end. It makes no sense to me how sex could drop to second place, especially with all those Viagra commercials seen 40 times a day on TV.

To be fair to the gambling industry, marriages and other relationships fail for reasons other than gambling and sex. Other reasons – and there are many of them - tend to be spending money on things they don't need with money they don't have. In other words, using credit cards that are NOT paid off by the end of the month. Paying high – almost obscene interest rates - on those credit cards without the cash to back up purchases is a common behavior which is really misbehavior.


Excerpted from "Misbehavin' A to Z"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Carol M. Hoffman, EdD..
Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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