Misbehaviour is defined as “actions and inactions of students that distract the learning continuum in the classroom. Most often these behaviours are negative attitudes such as students' failure to participate in activities, disrespect, excessive sociability, partial or negated participation” (De Jong, 2005). Behaviour management has therefore been one of the essential considerations of teaching. Reporting of misbehaviour in the classroom is highly variable in regard to the age group of children (Burden, 2020). This research report will aim to understand the researched and perceived causes of misbehaviour in younger children in the school premise. To understand the cause and root of observed disengagement in younger children in school, a concise review of literature will be developed in this research to retrieve the pre-published studies. The results from the reviewed literature will be contrasted against the primary data collected from individuals like teachers, parents, teaching and non-teaching individuals to identify the perceived notions associated with the misbehaviour of children in school. Through this analysis, this report will analyze the misbehaviour in children via the theory of Adlerian perspective. To conclude this report, the implication for praxis inclusive of personal awareness and teaching practice will also be provided
Misbehaviour of children in school has been rigorously studied in psychological as well as pedological studies. The behaviour of the student is a crucial element of their growth, development, and overall well-being. Therefore, misbehaviour in younger ages has been given prime importance. The misbehaviour of children has been studied and identified to be linked with multiple theories and prospects. As per the modified theory of Alfred Adler, the misbehaviour of the students at a young age is motivated from four primary causes (Emmons & Belangee, 2018). These include to get attention, gain power or control, seeking revenge, and display of inadequacy (Emmons & Belangee, 2018). An integrative study by Burden (2020) indicates that the behaviour of children is not random and is highly goal-oriented and motivated. Further, Burden (2020) has elucidated that beyond psychological motivation the misbehaviour of the child can also be triggered by poor biological health and thus can be driven by sickness, hunger or physical discomfort. Broadsky (2017) argues that the misbehaviour of a child in the school premise can indicate attention deficit or power gaining need that directly impacts the engagement and overall participation of the child in the class.
These results have also been coherently found to be assertive also in the study by Sadik (2018). The study by Sadik (2018) indicated that lack of attention and poor management of misbehaviour in a class of these children can often result into bullying, psychological scarring, and a poor development affecting psychological as well as academic health of the child. Lanas et al. (2020) have asserted that seeking attention is one the major reason for poor behaviour in children. Being a centre of attention is a common desire for children. This is also associated with the desire to power, where the students who misbehave are express a desire to control the classroom to act appropriately.
The signs of power seeking in the students include constant arguing and refusal to adhere to the basic rules. Hurt feelings and lashing out is also a common concern that is associated with misbehaving and irresponsible behaviour (Jonston, Park & Miller, 2018). Lack of self-confidence and general fear of failure is also associated with the misbehaviour of the children. Physiological factors that result in misbehaviour. A child might also misbehave with problems with the curriculum. Therefore, sensitivity is important (Holden, 2019). The child may be poor with communicating as a child will not be able to express his or her needs and this can result into agitation and therefore eventually result in misbehaviour and lashing out in the learning premise. The misbehaviour in children can be expressed through fits and expression of agitation and eventually result in poor behaviour in the students (Mwaniki, 2018). Poor behaviour in class also results in poor engagement in class, limited academic performance, and effective caring (Hart & Diperna, 2017).
Open interviews were conducted with six individuals with open channelling of a conversation. The interviews were included from six individuals regarding the question “Why do young people misbehave in school?” The transcripts from the interview were noted through free communication.
Person 1 (Teacher, Female)
As a teacher, I feel that students often misbehave in class to assert their importance and to highlight their presence. It can be seen as a means to seek attention. I have also observed that children also misbehave when they have had a bad day in the morning and were not willing to come to school that day! The cause of misbehaviour, in my opinion, is only to gain attention in most cases and I think it happens as a child might feel secluded and not getting adequate acknowledgement.
Person 2 (Parent, male)
Misbehaviour in class in young children I feel could be of many reasons. When I get complaints about my son they are mostly associated with trying to gain attention. I also feel that the environment of the child plays an important role in his or her behaviour and should, therefore, could be one reason. I guess! However, I think the cause of misbehaviour in poor conduct could be to gain attention or to exhibit superiority in the classroom.
Person 3 (Parent, female)
I think the misbehaviour of a child in school can only be triggered. I mean, my daughter never misbehaves at home and the complaints that are presented to me by the teacher seem to put me off. If it is happening only in the school, it must be something in the school.
Person 4 (Industrialist, male, without children)
I think young children only like to have fun! And the fun is what we think is poor behaviour and lack of discipline. We restrict too much. Children should be allowed to be free. I think these restrictions are a cause of misbehaviour. A child might feel negated and want some attention and the acts to do so can be perceived as misbehaviour in the school premises. Listening to the needs of the child would solve these problems with less intrusion and more freedom for their daily activities and evolution as an adult
Person 5 (College student, female, without children)
When I was in school I used to get agitated with the entire schooling programs and was called out for misbehaviour in my early childhood. It was difficult to sit for hours like that when you don’t understand what is going on right. So, I think it is because of poor management and systems that trigger this behaviour in younger children. The system does not understand their needs. I think lack of proper environment is, therefore, one of the key causes of misbehaviour in children.
Person 6 (Teacher, male)
Misbehaviour in class can be because of many reasons. Sometimes the child is distracted, sometimes the child is hungry, sometimes they are not feeling so good, sometimes they don’t understand what is going on, sometimes they are upset about something that happened, sometimes they are in fear of what will happen next. It is a huge umbrella and you only work through elimination for a real cause and solve it!
The literature analyzed asserted that the behaviour of the students in class is influenced by multiple factors inclusive of psychological needs and physiological demands. The Adlerian model of misbehaviour of the students in the young age identifies its motivation from four primary causes. These include to get attention, gain power or control, seeking revenge, and display of inadequacy (Emmons & Belangee, 2018). This falls in concordance with the views and insights gained from interview participants who believe that motivation of misbehaviour is directed and can arise from multiple reasons. However, an inclination towards attention-seeking nature was observed and perceived the more common cause of misbehaviour in the children by interviewees. The trigger from the schooling environment and overall teaching experience was also noted by some interviewees as the speculated cause of misbehaviour (Lamraoui & Zerrouki, 2018). However, the psychological knowledge about child behaviour and the in-depth understanding of the cause of misbehaviour was largely missing. The cause of misbehaviour associated with factors like hunger, poor health, or other physiological needs was also identified.
These perceptions were aligned with the studies that were found and explored in literature. However, interview responses also help in establishing that school environment and overall systems could also serve to be a trigger for misbehaviour in young children. The awareness of the teachers regarding misbehaviour of the students was greatest followed by the awareness among the parents, and then by individuals who neither had experience with teaching or with parenting. These results indicate that there is a need for increasing awareness among the people regarding the causes of misbehaviour in the students. It also indicated that there are regions of overlap in perceptions and the researched causes, yet, information with psychological processes in the children associated with misbehaviour is important to develop advanced pedagogy. Further feedback and inputs from parents are also critical to advance the pedagogy to ensure a holistic developing environment for the children in their learning years (Swarikar & Dadds, 2018).
This research served to be prime significance in providing information regarding the cause of misbehaviour in the younger children in the school premise. Through this research, it was revealed that misbehaviour cannot be seen through a binary lens and is a multimodal phenomenon. This research also helped in understanding how the misbehaviour in young children can be motivated to get attention, gain power or control, seeking revenge, and display of inadequacy in the premise. Through this research personal awareness regarding the cause of misbehaviour in younger children was also scrutinized and was a further test to evaluation when interviews were conducted from different individuals to gauge at their perception regarding the cause of misbehaviour in the younger children.
The interviews revealed a range of information and a variety of perceptions where some interviewees asserted that misbehaviour was a cause of environment, need for attention, and also because of the biological demands; there were also perceptions how the teaching systems and the school environment could also be a trigger for misbehaviour in the children. These results can directly be applied to pedagogy to enhance the student experience, improve the classroom methodologies and help in developing interventions that can assist in limiting the incidents of misbehaviour in the class. This will also help in understanding child psychology and thereby assist in providing a better learning environment to promote their growth and ensure wellness in the learning years (Jinot, 2018).
This research report focused on providing information about the researched and the perceived causes of misbehaviour in young children, particularly in the school premise. A succinct review of the literature was conducted to identify the existing models and theories that focus on the causes of misbehaviour in children. Further, primary research by conducting open ended interviews was also done to find the perceived causes from teachers, parents, as well as from individuals who are not directly associated with children. A thorough analysis of the overlaps and the divergence in results obtained via literature synthesis and primary interviews was also conducted to identify the research gaps and regions of concordance. The significance of this practice and its application in pedagogy was also assessed in this research report that indicated its direct application.
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