So much has been written about children’s behaviour or the managing of behaviour in children. Behaviour is an action, reaction, display of character or response. Good behaviour, however, is what is acceptable to the adult caring for a child at any particular time. What is good behaviour, when it comes to children? Is it when children follow the instruction given to them without any fuss or complain to the adult; Or when they are being rewarded for participating in something positive. In most cases, ‘do as you are told’, shows you are of good behaviour.
A child being described as showing good behaviour is the perception of the adult the child is trying to please. Children who are abused or groomed sexually, have been told by their abuser that when they are ‘good’ or ‘behave’ they will be rewarded positively. This scenario shows that the good behaviour of the child is based on what the adult demands from him or her. Does this mean it is right? Of cause not but in the eye of the child, this behaviour is rewarded positively. That means it must be good and acceptable. Some children are overly nice and helpful, which has gotten them into more inconvenience. A case comes to mind of a child who helped another child during an exam. The helpful child had finished her exam paper but noticed that the child sitting next to her was finding it difficult, so decided to help. Other children have been nasty in fighting off a bully, which at the time was seen as appropriate behaviour for defending themselves.
What am I saying? The onus of a child showing good behaviour falls entirely on the adult. In simple term, adults are responsible for developing effective behaviour in children. A child cannot just develop good behaviour overnight, or throughout their developmental years without any definitive guide or input from the adult. Rather, s/he responds to the adult who is responsible for caring and developing him/her. Whatever the adult pours into the child is what the child bears. When a toddler swears, the adult caring for the toddler is responsible for that pattern of behaviour based on what he/she is exposed to.
Do personality and genetics plays a part in the behaviour of children? Maybe. Some parents have said ‘my child is naturally good and well behaved’ while others have said ‘out of all my four children, my third child is the most difficult.’ It can be debated that the birth position of the child, the socioeconomic level of the family, the time frame of when the child was born and many other factors affected the behaviour of the child. The debate can go on. The majority of the time, one thing is for certain. The behaviour of the child, whether good or bad, rests solely on the adult. According to Emilie Buchwald, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”