Why Children Under 7 Years Old Disobey You and How To Deal With It

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Have you ever go nuts with children? That few deep breaths you take to calm down might help. But sometimes, NOT. That is probably the reason why you’re here. Let me show you the reasons why 7-year-olds and younger children disobey and how to deal with it so you won’t go bananas. And so you know, they are humans too just like you.

What are the causes of bad behavior in a child?

There are three main reasons why your child is showing “bad” behavior.[1]

  • Biological – your child needs his or her basic needs like food and nap time.
  • Emotional – your child might be stressed about how he or she expresses her or his emotions.
  • Environment – your surroundings also affect your child’s behavior and this includes the atmosphere in your home. Do you have a healthy relationship with your family or the other way around?

Why Do Children Misbehave?

According to a study, here’s why your children disobey you.[2]

1.      They are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired

I mean, who doesn’t? Satisfy their basic needs first and then go with the next task. I also want to recommend to you this great book about parenting!

How To Talk so Little Kids Will Listen
This book will be your guide in developing a joyful relationship with children. This book will help you understand children more. Your kid will also learn how to build a good relationship and connect well with their teachers, siblings, and peers.

2.      They want attention

Even if they don’t ask for it, spending time with your kid means a lot to them. Join their playtime, and give some CUDDLES! Try new things that they would enjoy and make your bond much stronger.

Stoei’s International Wooden Music Set for Toddlers and Kids
This will make your kids discover and develop his or her talents. You will have a bonding time with your kid. You will have a connection with your child and make good memories together.

3.      They did not understand the rules

There’s nothing more innocent than a child. Try to see if your rules could be easily understood by their age.   

4.      They imitate others

Children imitate what they see almost everywhere. So, be extra careful with their exposure to media and be a role model.

5.      They are testing your limits

Children are the best “patience-testers” they want to know if you are serious with your rules. Consistency is the key.

The Causes of Disobedience

According to a study, child disobedience also happens due to the following factors[3]:

1.      Parents’ unreasonable expectations

Being unreasonable or illogical to your child happens when you let your actions be overcome by your emotions rather than careful thought. Be the parent that your kid expects you to be. I know it’s hard but also the most rewarding thing, and if you still want some encouragement and wisdom about parenting here’s a good book that you will surely love.

Raising Good Humans
This book is perfect when you are done with yelling and being stressed with your parenting life. This would build your relationship with your daughter or son so much better, and they will grow up kind and confident. This will help you to be mindful and calm with your kids and also helps in building a good and happy family.

2.      Child’s temperament

Every kid is unique. Early childhood is just a start for your kid to develop psychological traits in discovering herself or himself because a child’s temper is not yet stabilized.[4] According to a study, tantrums are more frequent in children ages 1-4 because they begin to exercise their sense of autonomy. However, there are positive ways to handle your kid if this happens.[5]

  • First, you should ignore the outburst
  • Second, nurture your kid when he or she calms down.
  • Lastly, teach your kid how to express their negative emotions more acceptably.

3.      School problems

Adjusting to a new environment can be tough with everybody especially children. You never know what challenges your kid is facing in his or her school so please, talk to them every day and check up on them in school. Be there for your kid, but never tolerate them if they are wrong.

4.      Family problems

Admit it at some point in our lives, we have experienced this situation. With tons of reasons why it happened and currently happening the children are the ones who mostly suffer. A study shows that bad relationships within the family can and could be passed on from generation to generation.[6]

5.      Problems between their parents

Children could be affected in terms of their behavioral, emotional, and social relationships, as well as their academic performance when their parents argue or, have conflicts. 

There are lots of factors that contribute to child disobedience and understanding your child’s behavior. It is better to read some studies about this concern. Here’s a good article that might interest you if you want to understand why your kids disobey your instructions or rules. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/111/3/641.full.pdf

6.      Presence of  a  disability that may affect the child’s  emotional and social well-being

Neurological disabilities such as epilepsy, learning disabilities, autism, ADD, neuromuscular disorders, brain tumors, cerebral palsy.[7] These are just some to be named just so you know that this can also be a factor that can affect your child’s behavior. However, if this is your case, you are required to ask for professional help.

7.      Family and social environment

Depending on the social class you are in, the surroundings can affect your child’s behavior.  According to a study, family and social environment includes and affected by the following;[8]

  • lack of foster
  • harsh behavior of parents
  • use of abusive language
  • strict rules and regulations
  • friend circle
  • nagging in front of others
  • imbalance development
  • undue pampering

8.      Limited social  experiences

Sometimes, children are not yet fully understand the surroundings that they are in and it may trigger them to do such behavior that their experience requires. Social interaction is important for your child’s development, make sure that you introduce your kid to this wonderful world. Try starting it now, by this awesome interactive book of science experiments!

Awesome Science Experiments for Kids
This interactive book will help your kid learn cool stuff about science. They will also practice their social skills while doing experiments with their peers. This will help your child to make friends that is a huge part of their development and it will help them to become more confident, and intelligent child in the future.

9.      An event that has occurred in the community

Currently, occurring events like the global pandemic COVID-19 have made lots of people distress and it could also happen with your kid. Even at a very young age, they could sense fear and it is a natural thing and a valid emotion that should be taken seriously.

When You Should Worry About Your Kids Behavior?

Regardless of events or any situations that you and your child are in, patterns of behavioral concerns may arise. According to mental health practitioners, observing your child on their specific habits, evaluating how often it happens, and how intense the behavior are the first factors that you should consider. However, if the behavior or a habit becomes more extreme over time, that is when it is recommended that you seek professional help.

Other factors to consider:

  • Change in their sleeping or eating routine
  • Aggressive behavior such as hitting, biting, or kicking
  • Often talks about fears or worries
  • Uninterested in family, friends, school, or hobbies that they used to enjoy
  • Dangerous behavior to the child and others
  • Frequent stomachaches and headaches

What To Do When A Child Keeps Misbehaving?

According to the perspective of a preschool teacher, you should not give a kid attention for their misbehavior and make the child responsible for their consequence so, in this way, the child would behave what you expect them to.[9] But this is not a “one fits all” type of thing, but who am I to decide? Go on and tell me, how well do you know your child?

What To Do If Your Child Is Uncontrollable?

There are many reasons if not all on why your child disobeys you. However, this does not mean that you are a bad parent. Many types of research are talking about parenting strategies but as I’ve mentioned before, there is “no one size fits all” in the field of parenting. Sounds scary, right? But hey let me tap your back, you will get through this. According to experts, you should follow these steps when you can’t control your child anymore.

  1. Take a breath – you must first calm down before taking any actions with your kid’s behavior.
  2. Try a different parenting approach – there are numerous parenting styles on the net! One of the hottest topics in the parenting world is the “Positive Parenting Approach” for children 0-7 years old that you must try.[10]
  3. Set a time-out place – give time for your child to rethink his or her mistakes. You can do it by making him or her face the wall. But, make sure that the place is not frightening for your kid. Otherwise, it will cause more misbehavior.[11]
  4. Don’t give in to tantrums or aggressive behavior – stay firm, giving in to your kids’ tantrums is just rewarding their inappropriate behavior!
  5. Know your kid’s patterns and identify their triggers – structure an everyday routine and make the task simple and doable by your kid.

Practicing your kids’ senses during activities helps your kid to calm down. I recommend you try these calm-down kits for your kid.

Kinetic Sand
This toy makes your kid calms his or her senses, and avoid triggers to their tantrums. You can worry less about your child and feel more at ease. This will bring you and your child to a more joyful relationship.
I Know What To Do When I’m Feeling
This book helps your kid identify his or her emotions. It will help your child make a positive approach to managing his or her emotions. Another benefit of this book is it  will also make your kid engage more into a good relationship with his or her peers, family, and to the community.
Calming Stretchy String
This will help your kid to block the stresses off and manage their emotions. Also, you will have much more time doing chores without worrying too much about your kid.

Who Can I Talk To About My Child’s Behavior?

Try to join a social group where you can talk to other moms and dads, talk about your children and share some thoughts about the struggle. This will help you and the group to overcome your parenting dilemmas. However, if only talking to somebody else does not work anymore I suggest you reach out for professional help. With all the stereotypes out there,

 please be rest assured that you are seeking help to make solutions to your problems and it is normal just like a regular checkup from your dentist.

 Here are some of the mental health specialists from Child Mind Institute to help you with your kids’ diagnosis, and a brief sneak peeks at how these real-life superheroes treat your most precious one. [12]

WhoWhat Do They Do?
Developmental and Behavioral PediatriciansThey treat and evaluate the child’s developmental and behavioral problems.
Pediatric NeurologistThey specialize in the treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders that includes intellectual disability.
PsychiatristIs a doctor that diagnoses, treat, and prescribes medications in patients with psychiatric disorders.
PsychologistThey diagnose and treat patients with psychiatric disorders but don’t prescribe medications.
School PsychologistThey identify the child’s learning and behavioral problems and evaluate students with special needs. They also support their emotional, social, and behavioral health.
Clinical Social WorkerThey diagnose and treat the mental, behavioral, and emotional issues of the patient.
CounselorThey are trained for the evaluation, treatment, and diagnosis to provide therapeutic plans to a patient.

How do I know if my child needs behavioral therapy?

According to research, you must get your child into therapy if his or her behavior is disruptive, repetitive, and is showing frequent signs of negative behavior.[13] You should observe your child in 6 months duration to decide whether your child needs a further evaluation from professionals.

How can I improve my child’s behavior?

The majority of my researches are saying the phrases “Staying calm”, being a “good example”. However, giving your kid some hugging won’t hurt. Say how much they matter to you, and give them a chance to practice the right thing to do once more. Now, you should think twice before you throw that disgusting eye. You will know more in reading books about parenting, and see what’s the best fit for you.

Positive Parenting

Positive parenting according to Barbara Harvey (2015), is a parenting style that focuses solely on teaching your child’s “what” and “why’s”, positive parenting builds a relationship between you and your child with the help of communication and mutual respect and training of self-control.[14] Here are some books that will keep you motivated and on track with your parenting life.

Positive Parenting
This book will help you maintain your meaningful connection with your child. This will also help your child to adapt effective parenting styles and practice healthy positive parenting in the future.
Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids
This book will make your emotional relationship with your kid much stronger. You will make a good and happy family that is full of understanding with each other. Your children would deal with his or her personal challenges more effectively.

Parents Do Influence Their Child’s Personality Development

Yes, you heard that right. YOU are the one who first influences your child and everything that you teach and makes input on your child do affect their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Your children are like sponges, they absorb what they see in their surroundings. So, if you are the type of parent that always shouts, nags, and unmotivated your child will most probably do the same. This will also affect their relationships with other people by making fewer friends or develop bad behavior that they will carry on until they grew up, and we both know that you don’t want that either.

Parents Are The Number One Influence In Their Child’s Life

While your kid looks up to you, they also observe and learn things that you do. Be a role model for your child; respect, support and encourage them. Be the friend that they need, be her or his mentor. Tell them facts about life with hope in the future, talk to them about what they don’t understand. In this way, your kid will be well-mannered,  morally upright, and productive individuals in the future.

How do you motivate a child?

According to a scientific study in Harvard University: Center on the Developing Child, you must let your kid lead on their own. Then, observe how they want to do it and familiarize yourself with when they do the act. Babies are naturally curious about the things that are unusual to them, it’s their expertise. Let your child do some activities that make them self-motivated like painting or doing workbooks. This will practice them to engage in simple, age-appropriate tasks.[15]

Unicorn Painting Kit for Kids
Your kid will enjoy some playtime with arts and crafts that develops their self-motivation. Art-making will help your kid’s imagination and creativity skills shine.
My First Learn to Write Workbook
This workbook will help your child learn and retain their knowledge. Your child will also learn how to accomplish tasks so they will practice their sense of responsibility.
Paint by Sticker Kids: Zoo Animals
This will help your kids practice their thinking skills to put a puzzle together. This will probably make your bonding time more fun. You will have more time with your kid.

One Last Thing

Children disobey when they are pressured, hurt, and don’t know what to do because they are too young. You should respect their boundaries, fulfill their needs and love them unconditionally. Children are innocents, they are molded by their environment and you. Being able to bring and nourish another life into this world is indeed the toughest task for every individual’s life. I recommend you How To Talk so Little Kids Will Listen, and Raising Good Humans books as these will help you in your parenting journey.

[1] Hamdorf, Kent G. “Understanding Child Behavior and Misbehavior.” (1979).

[2] Hameed-ur-Rehman, M., and Munir Moosa Sadruddin. “Study on the causes of misbehavior among South-East Asian children.” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 2.4 (2012): 162-175.

[3]American Academy of Pediatrics: “The Disobedient Child” healthychildren.org, (2009)

[4]Kopala–Sibley, Daniel C., et al. “The Stability of Temperament from Early Childhood to Early Adolescence: A Multi–Method, Multi–Informant Examination.” European Journal of Personality, vol. 32, no. 2, Mar. 2018, pp. 128–145, doi:10.1002/per.2151.

[5]Leung AK, Fagan JE. “Temper tantrums.” American Family Physician. 1991 Aug;44(2):559-563.

[6]Narayan, Angela J et al. “The legacy of early childhood violence exposure to adulthood intimate partner violence: Variable- and person-oriented evidence.” Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43) vol. 31,7 (2017): 833-843. doi:10.1037/fam0000327

[7]Meier, Adam. “Neurological Disorders” Montana.gov official website: Montana DPHHS.

[9]White, Lizzy. Answers: “At the daycare I work at this one kid who is always misbehaving. He gets water and pours it on the floor or spits it out at other kids. His parents were told and asked if it was a problem. I’m so sick putting up with it. What do I do?” Quora.com, (2019).

[10]“Child Development Positive Parenting Tips | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 Feb. 2019, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/index.html.

[11] “What Can Do To Change Your Child’s Behavior” familydoctor.org, (2019).

[12]Child Mind Institute. “List of Specialists.” Child Mind Institute, 26 Aug. 2019.

[13] Children’s Health Team. “11 Signs That Your Child May Need a Therapist.” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 28 July 2020.

[14]Harvey, Barbara. “Positive Parenting Defined.” Kars4Kids Parenting, 11 Apr. 2018, parenting.kars4kids.org/positive-parenting-defined.

[15] “How to Motivate Children: Science-Based Approaches for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 25 Feb. 2019.

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Tiffany Biondi

Tiffany Biondi

Mother of 4 kids, Tiffany is a certified childcarer and during her free time, she write posts in thebabychoice to share her hands on experience and knowledge.