Behaving Badly? But Why?

A lot has changed since the last time we’ve chatted. The student I found an interest in observing has yet again moved. He was pulled from the head start and moved to another. I would like to know how he is adjusting because that could provide me more research information, however, I am not able to find that information. So, I began looking for a new question to answer. While I was in the class, I noticed a student who was acting out negatively to get attention. I asked this student what her family was like through casual conversation and it sparked and a new question. How does a family’s dynamic affect a child’s behavior?

The child that made me interested in this topic did not want to talk with me much, but I did find out that her parents were divorced. Because this Alyssa (pseudonym) did not want to share more information I asked another student what her family was like. Cami (pseudonym) lives in a home with both her mom and dad. She also lives with her two older brothers. I was interested to see if her family was close knit and through conversation, I could tell that they were. Cami was well behaved, I’m assuming not just because I was visiting, and followed directions when asked. She was very familiar with the classroom routines and knew what was expected.

Cami has a very different family dynamic than what I had when I was a young child. At her age my parents got divorced and I had to adjust to a new family dynamic. My family consisted of my dad, my older sister, and myself with the help of my grandparents that lived nearby. The difference between our three families made me wonder more specifically how does a change in family dynamic affect a child?

A journal article titled  Changes in Young Children’s Family Structures and Child Care Arrangements written by Robert Crosnoe, Kate Chambers Prickett, Chelsea Smith and Shannon Cavanagh states, “in general, research suggests that children experience better outcomes when they live with two married biological parents rather than in other household arrangements…” (Crosnoe, Prickett, Smith, & Cavanagh, 2013).This seems to be the case for Cami because through observation she seems to be achieving the academic goals. The authors also state in the article “relationship transitions can affect parenting efficiency, with emotional distress interfering with the translation of parenting values into sustained behavior” (Crosnoe, Prickett, Smith, & Cavanagh, 2013). When parents are divorced the pressure to become individually financial stability puts a lot of pressure of the parent causing stress. This stress may interfere with the care the parent is giving the child. With the lack of attention, a child could begin to act out to receive attention they need whether it be negative attention or not. This could be the reason for Alyssa’s behavior, though I don’t want to assume. From personal experience, I believe this is true. A few years after my parents got divorced my sister wanted to try to live with our mother. My mom struggled financially and due to this she could not give the attention to my sister that she needed. She began to act out negatively to get her attention and this affected her education. She was no longer receiving high marks and attending class.

In another article titled, Troubled Child Troubled Family, Joseph W. Baldwin states “the misbehaving, maladapting child in school is trying to tell us something. He has a message – a message conceived and delivered in pain and nurtured in his family” (Baldwin, 1968). This is exactly what was happening with my sister and possibly Alyssa. They were hurting at home so their behavior at school has changed.

I see the difference between the Cami and Alyssa’s family and their behaviors. Alyssa seems to be acting much like my sister did when she had to adjust to a new family dynamic. I would like to get more information about Alyssa and her family to get more information for research without assuming. I will update everyone on the next post how this goes.


Baldwin, J. (1968). Troubled Child Troubled Family. The Elementary School      Journal, 68(4), 172-179. Retrieved from

Crosnoe, R., Prickett, K., Smith, C., & Cavanagh, S. (2014). Changes in Young            Children’s Family Structures and Child Care Arrangements. Demography, 51(2),       459-483. Retrieved from