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Childrens Behaviour and Learning Behaviour

Updated on August 29, 2017
Children behaving badly?
Children behaving badly?

Behaviour Psychology "You are what you Learn"

Is your child behaving badly? Are you wondering why your child is behaving in a certain way? This page is about understanding learned behaviors, aggressive or unwanted behavior in children, by raising our awareness of exactly who our children are learning behavior from and how children can and will be affected by what they see and learn from a young age.

How we learn has changed drastically over the years, with the social media boom, with easy access to computer games, the web, and unregulated channels on our TVs, and parents having busier lives.

We search for answers to solving our kids problems, looking for the magic answer to well-behaved children. With one simple theory, dating back to the 1960s, and a very famous poem, "Children learn what they Live " which helps us understand the relationship between learning and behavior and behavior psychology

Using my knowledge gathered from 10 years of working with children with social and Emotional difficulties We will also look at examples of learned behavior and what we can do about it.

"Learning how to learn is life most important skill" Tony Buzan

Picture Credit

Learned Behaviour - ....or are they just acting up?

Parenting children is not an easy job. Sometimes we are shocked to see our child display unwanted behaviours, even aggressive behaviours that can creep in if unchecked.

We then panic and look to find the answers to our child's behaviour, we search online, and tell everybody our problem, hoping for some miraculous discovery to cure our child's behaviour, in fact we look in so many places we don't even think to look closer to home. I believe there is no such thing as a bad child.

Some even just think it is the child acting out. But, we also must realise that it is just their behaviour I am not happy with. So we must identify the behaviour, find out where it came from and work to changing it.

Even as Adults we continue to learn what is socially acceptable behaviour. In workplaces, in relationships. and eventually what kind of behaviour we end up teaching our children.

Understanding behaviour is a huge undertaking, but I would like to think by the end of this page, you will have an idea about how easy it is to rectify your behaviour and see a massive improvement in your child's behaviour. Yes you read that last sentence correctly.

Learning and Behaviour - ....the result of life experiences

When I was studying Psychology the thoughts and writings on the Social Learning theory really interested me, and I remember being asked who we learned our behaviours from. We were to write an essay regarding our answers. We got to read everyone else's, and it was so interesting to see how other people saw who had shaped and formed their learning throughout their lives. Why we behaved in the manner we do. An example of this, was a woman who presented herself as self assured, well dressed and very articulate, and nothing phased her, but she had been brought up in an abusive household, she told us how she was top of her class, how she was the centre of attention and always the popular girl at school. So this was even more shocking a story, and just showed how powerfullearned behaviour can be. She had learned how to hide the emotional abuse she suffered, as a child living in a household with her father who was an alcoholic. She had learned from her mother to excuse this behaviour, accept this behaviour, and to never breathe a word of her abuse. She had also learned how to put on a face as she called it.

Do you learn by being taught or do you learn by watching how others act and behave?

Comments are enabled, as I agree you may have another option, but you can choose the closest and explain further if you wish, thank you.

Throughout our lives we learn behaviours....who was the biggest influence in your learning

Who do we Learn from - Children see children Do

This advert is testament to how our behaviour shapes our children's lives. to understand the basic concept of the Social Learning Theory I strongly recommend you watch this short advertisment

Behaviour Learning Theory

Social Learning Theory - Albert Bandura 1977

In my studies of psychology I came across a psychologist Albert Bandura whoso social Learning Theory is probably referred to time and time again, said

"Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action." (p22)

Source Albert Bandura is described as one of the greatest psychologists of our time.

In today's world, both teachers and parents recognize the importance of modeling appropriate behaviors. even more so now that children from a very early age have such easy access to Internet, TV and video Games that we never even had 10 years ago.

Learned Behaviour Examples.... - do as I say and not as I do.

Confusing Learned Behaviour:

A young child turns round and uses a bad word , in a sentence, when they make a give them a row, teliing them it is unacceptable to use this type of language, the child is now confused and upset and says "but you say it mommy"

- Lesson learned: The child has learned from you to use Curse words, when they make a mistake

A young child watches his father, shout and scream at his wife, he hits her, and is disrespectful and abusive towards her, the child then starts to talk back to their mother, in the same manner as the mother says "do not speak to me like that" and the child says "but that's what Dad does" the child strikes out at his mother in anger and frustration, and the mother says you do not hit me, the child says "but you let dad hit you, and you don't give him a row, you don't say anything to him"

- Lesson learned: The child has watched the husband be abusive to the mother, and the child thinks this is normal, behaviour, on how to treat their mother.

You ask your child for the 10Th time to take out the garbage, you end up shouting at them that you are sick and tired of asking them to do things and they are never done and then you take the rubbish outside yourself

-Lesson Learned: ignore your requests long enough and someone will go and do it for them.

These are made up, however no far from a few scenarios I have worked with. I bet you can relate to them!

So if we as parents are looking for answers to our child's behaviour, Perhaps we should be looking at our own first.

Behaviour Learning - Bandura's Bobo Doll Experiment

proving his theory that behaviour is learned

Going back to Albert Banduras' theory and his Bobo doll experiment. He studied patterns of behaviour and aggression. I believe this is crucial in today's world and helping us understand violence increases in today's society. The ever increasing easy access to social media, and the adverse affects it can have on children and adults.

Bandura's experiments would prove the link between learning and behaviour. In simplest terms, the experiment uses adults and children playing in a room of toys.

The adult would display aggressive behaviour towards a doll, then leave the room.Observers recorded what the child would do, and indeed showed them copying the aggressive behaviour. Hitting it, throwing it around. Even mimicing facial and vocal expressions.

Although widely criticised for his theory, there were also variations Bandura used. He would show a video of an adult being aggressive to a toy clown, to the children.

They were then allowed to enter the room full of toys, including the toy clown. Each child displayed the same aggressive behaviour they had watched the adult act towards the toy clown.

Thus again proving children will imitate what behaviour they see.

You can read the Full experiment TRANSMISSION OF AGGRESSION THROUGH IMITATION OF AGGRESSIVE MODELS [1] Albert Bandura, Dorothea Ross, and Sheila A. Ross [2] (1961)

Social Learning Theory - Further suggested reading material

Whilst researching behaviour psychology for part of my studies. This book was on our recommended reading list, I loved this book, and the research and findings it included into understanding Social learning theory

Your Behaviour and Actions

Will affect a Child's Behaviour

Resolving Conflict - How does your child resolve conflict.

Time out - is a great way to give the child space to calm down, and yourself. Choose a quiet space in your house as the designated time-out Aurea. And explain to your child if they are mis-behaving this is where they can come to take time out, and calm down. Always be aware of making eye contact, tone of voice, use direct instructions.

A great phrase to remember is. "Mummy does not like what you are doing, I want you to take time out and when you are calm. you will stay here for 3 miutes and I will come back to speak with you.

If they continue to get up , keep placing back on the chair until they sit for the full 3 minutes. Yes they will push you, and will continue to keep pushing your new boundaries, but if you want success you must stick to the plan.


How does your child play, do they play computer games. What kind of games are they playing? I s the TV your child minder?

Make a time and turn everything off, and just go outside. Go for a walk.

Playing with your child costs nothing yet is what their memories are made of, simple crafts or baking cakes, coloring in, are a great way to teach, about sharing, taking turns and giving.

But most of all remember

Children learn what they live - if a child lives with....

Since its publication in 1954, Dorothy Law Nolte's inspirational and educational poem, Children Learn What They Live has been published worldwide, translated into 10 languages, taught in parenting and teaching courses, distributed in doctors offices, and printed on posters and calendars. I have had it in a prominent place on every classroom wall that I taught in.

Helping children to Learn Live and Grow - More information

Informative and interesting articles


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