Am I Responsible for My Child’s Behavioral Problems?!
Posted on: September 9, 2014. Comments ( 15 )

Author: Anitha.A,
Asst Professor,
Clinical Psychologist, Hyderabad

We see many children throwing tantrums on roads, malls, restaurants and many other places. The parents of such children feel a bit embarrassed and even nervous due to the tantrums (behavior problems) of the child. But the interesting fact is that such parents never realize that they, as parents, are responsible for the tantrums.

Shocking though it might be, it is nevertheless the hard truth to believe.

Yes, we are responsible for our children’s behavior problems.

Let us understand the logic behind it. If the child is in a nuclear family both the parents are responsible for the child’s tantrums. Let us take a small example of the child asking for a chocolate before dinner which the mother refuses to give; the father—just back from work—does not want to see the child crying so gives him/her the chocolate.

Here, the child learns so many things:

  • Father will give chocolate.
  • Every time I cry I get a chocolate; especially when father is at home.
  • So I can cry for chocolate when he is around.

Now the child has learnt how to get what he/she wants. Each time the parent denies the child something it wants, it begins to cry. When the parents don’t respond the child starts screaming, crying loudly, rolling on the floor—sometimes banging its head, throwing objects and hitting his/her younger sibling or parent.

All these behaviors are learnt on the premise of how the parent denies the child what it wants. The intensity of the tantrum changes according to the situation—like when guests visit the child’s house or the child visits his/her grandparents house. When there is conflict between the parents, the child will easily learn this fact: If Father says no Mother says yes, or vice-versa.

So parents, whenever a child throws a tantrum for something, assess whether that thing is good or bad for the child? If you think it is not good for the child, say no the first time itself and please do remember that both the parents say no.

Please give your reviews/comments on this article. Let us understand more about this in forthcoming articles.

Asst Professor,
Clinical Psychologist,
Bhasakara Medical College,
Student Counselor JBIET Group of Institutes


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Comments (15)


    Siddhi says:

    I agree but also want to know like other parents, What if the child has learnt already to throw tantrums and how to deal with such children

    Ushma says:

    Yes I agree but when I am also facing this problem as a single parent of twins and find difficult to convince child on my decision I always feel there must be someone who says I am true to my kids to support me If I am firm on my decision always I have to wait them to be calm to understand the reason behind my refusal and keep them out of my sight till cool down. It is not practically possible when we are out of house and we never tell them lie to complete their demand later on just back home as soon as possible.

    S. Purnima says:

    Dear Ms.Anitha,

    I would like to write my comments. Children are the reflection of what we are. My little one is 2.5 yrs old, he tries to follow all the elder people at home including my elder son who is 7 yrs old. We taught our elder son some good manners and behavior from the beginning as soon as he started understanding things. He will not litter things in the public places instead he searches for the dustbin. Now my younger son follows my elder son. So this is how behavior is cultivated. If you complain about your kids it means that you are complaining about yourself. If kids cry for something try to divert them from that situation and explain them later why its been denied to them. Explain your partner or your parents or your in-laws to co-operate with you in bringing them up with good behavior. If mom denies the chocolate it means that all the members in the family should deny it to the child. Before denying it, tell your family members why you are doing it, whether the child has already taken lots of chocolates or its un-time or the side effects after the intake of chocolates. It might help the family members and they will act accordingly. This works out very well with my kids and with my family members :-)

    Maithili says:

    Dear Ms. Anita,
    Kindly advise,
    when a 5 year old goes to a supermarket with the parents he/she is bound to get tempted and ask for a chocolate at least. In this case should the chocolate be denied?
    If yes, wouldn’t that mean being unreasonably strict?
    If no, Would it mean giving in to the child’s demand?

    S. says:

    This is a very insightful caution
    Parent’s behavior is a strong tool in the hand of the impressionable mind.
    The whole aspect that parents should be cautious about is that kids pick these tools with very limited understanding of their consequences – these small things get ingrained in their minds without any reasoning and they turn into habits.. subconscious patterns which as adults very few are able to rationalize.
    The knowledge of our own psychology is a must for every individual, and that is more important as a parent than as a single adult. For as parents, we tend to project our own behavior/habits which we learn subconsciously as kids from our parents and transfer it to the kids – like the genetic code.
    However it is important that such psychlogical counselling is shared with parents in all schools. Unfortunate that in India the importance of understanding psychology is poorly used.
    the likes of Ms. Anitha should be thanked for this article. Look forward to more insights. thanks mam.

    R. Meenakshi Valli says:

    very nice professor.please do give some ideas to handle such behaviour.busy life,lack of time ,all this have an effect on the parent-child relationship.

    Jayanthi says:

    Rightly said by Ms. Anitha. Children learn quickly how to get what they want and from the person concerned. The solution to this problem lies with the parents and whoever else is taking care of the kids. Parents must be clear with what behaviour they expect out of the child and be firm when it comes to handling tantrums. Also gently encourage right behaviour without over-emphasising it. Good behaviour should be made a way of life and not an exception.

    Ms.Deepa G says:

    True prof. Anitha, Kindly give suggestions on how parents can change themselves to change their child’s behavioural problems

    Megha says:

    Very true Proff. Anitha. But if any child is throwing tantrums, how to change it? Fault might be of parents or grand parents but ultimately child is affected with it. So how can we improve our child?

    Wilfred says:

    Very true Ms.Anitha. Not only parents, the babysitter also has a role to play in upbringing the kid in a rightway. In most family, a family member or grand parents play the role of baby sitter for working parents. The kids gets what he/she wants from the grandparent when both parents say no :)

    Satya Praveen says:

    nice one. need to incorporate this in our daily lives.

    S Vijay Mahindhran says:

    Its very interesting insight into tantrums of our children. What if the child has learnt already to throw tantrums and how to deal with such children.

    dhivyalakshmi says:

    Very True!! That too if it is a joint family, worst case than this.

    Amruta Bhushan Kulkarni says:


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