Parents and teachers understandably focus almost all of their attention on a child’s behavior. But most of the time it’s not a behavior issue. And that’s why consequences, behavior charts, and bribery simply don’t work for more than a few days, if at all. The behavior is simply a symptom of the real problem.

That student who’s acting out in class and being silly? That’s not a behavior issue. That’s an insecure kid trying to find his place and fit in. Build his confidence by actually using his unique talents in class and he’ll be a different kid. Give him jobs to do and help him be recognized for his talents, not just goofing off.

That child who steals things, sneaks sweets or video games at night, and lies about it? It’s not a behavior issue. He’s meeting a much deeper need by doing this and may actually just like the adrenaline rush of trying to outsmart his parents. Use his brain in positive ways to meet the same needs and this behavior will change.

The student who blurts out in class? He’s not being intentionally rude. He has difficulty with short-term memory and doesn’t want to forget that really interesting thought he had. Same with kids who often act out in class. They are bored or struggle with focus. Instead of simply enforcing consequences, use a few simple brain exercises and these kids can excel.

That child who fights you to go to soccer practice or school? He’s probably not just being defiant for the fun of it. He struggles with anxiety. So if we address the anxiety, we stop the defiance. Does that make sense?

That child who refuses to take responsibility for his actions? He’s not a recalcitrant, unrepentant jerk. He’s probably filled with shame and feels helpless to stop doing what he already knows is wrong.

Pile on the consequences and harsh lectures–and your child or student will shut down or become truly defiant. Get to the root of the issue and give him practical tools to do what he knows is right-and you’ll build a confident, positive kid who will use that big heart to help others (and you!).

So next time you have a child or student with “behavior issues,” step back for a moment and ask, “What’s really going on? What need is he trying to meet?” Then focus 85% of your energy on giving him tools to succeed…rather than reinforcing his incompetence and shame. And you’ll get a different result.

(1) Want every teacher and parent in your school or community to have 20 of these practical tools to help kids succeed? Want to build confidence instead of causing more costly behavior issues? Then BOOK KIRK at your school, church, foster parent conference or corporate event. Simply email with the name of your organization and city. We’ll send all the details. It is the best training in the country. Click here to learn more about our live workshops.

(2) Want specific help with specific issues? Then Call Kirk.
Because of his travel schedule, Kirk rarely conducts phone consultations. His typical rate is $250, but during February he will personally coach 10 families at the reduced rate of $150 per 52-minute phone consultation. Why 52-minutes? Because he values his time and yours, and wants you to be prepared to get the most out of each session. So he will call you at precisely the appointed time–be ready with a notepad and make full use of his wisdom. Click here to learn more and ask Kirk all your questions.