Why Kids Misbehave (Really)


A second reason for misbehavior is boredom. They’re tired of learning because the teaching is tiring. Boredom follows similar paths of disobedience as belonging. First, the learners playfully disrupt and then they power play disruptions.

Here’s the kicker:  Who has control of boredom? The hard reality is the teacher (not the student) has the power to bore no more. Unfortunately, too many Bible teachers and children’s pastors prefer to write their own curriculum rather than use a professional curriculum wired with creative, tested learning strategies. Secondly, there’s a lack of preparation and if you don’t prepare you will repair. A bad lesson plan (wired with boring strategies) combined with little preparation is a recipe for misbehavior. Don’t blame your class for acting up! You did it to yourself.

Another factor is attention spans. A child’s attention span equals his or her age. Two years old? Two minutes. Five years old? Five minutes. Ten years old? Ten minutes. Actually, most educational psychologists now propose attention spans for those older than ten is still about ten minutes. In other words, we have to keep changing things up. When a child’s attention is exhausted, they bore. And when they bore, they misbehave.


A final reason for misbehavior is beliefs. Essentially, we all carry within ourselves a set of beliefs about who we are. Our parents framed these beliefs primarily, but later in life our teachers, pastors and peers also contributed to our frame. As a result, we behave as others have framed us to behave.

We carry this emotional baggage of belief into every social setting. As we interact with others we respond and react according to the frame. For example, many troubled children have been labeled “trouble-makers.” Many children with problems are tagged as “problem kids.” Their troubles and problems now frame who they are.

As a result, kids act out of the negative expectations of adults. When we create rules in the classroom (to correct a few disobedient kids), we actually draw lines for others to act down. If you want to reframe beliefs, you have to set higher expectations. If you expect children to misbehave, they will every time! We behave according to the expected frame.


Belonging. Boredom. Beliefs.

Sniff or snuff. We have the choice and control.

Master teachers engineer positive smoke-free classrooms through proactive discipline. And now you know how they do it!