Children with challenging behaviors

The number of children with behavior problems seems to increase in Western world. The problems these children are facing may be very different. But whatever the origin of their problems is, they have one thing in common: they all are at risk of getting entangled in pattern of action-reaction in which they feel more and more rejected by the adult and the world around them.


Often educating and guiding these children is based on a dominating approach in which systematic reward and punishment is used to  change the behaviors.

The use of punishment has many side effects we wouldn’t want to occur. See also the article on punishment.


Behavior modification by the use of reward and punishment teaches the child to adjust to external pressure instead of moral development. Most likely the child will as a grownup also adjust to external influences. And then it depends on whether these influences are positive or negative.

Due to a cold and domineering education, the child may also start resisting against adults and the world around them. He has no reason to care for others, because he doesn’t feel cared for himself.

The long-term effect of domineering and non-affective education can be very negative for both the child as the society.


With gentle teaching we first focus on establishing an unconditional safe and loving relationship with the child. This doesn’t mean that everything a child does is good. When a child crosses the line, we have to help preventing harm. We don’t do this with punishment or exclusion, but we do this by guiding the child through the difficult moment. We become the moral guide for this moment.

And we try to evoke the caring qualities of the child, by which we give him a direction for his social development.


We can only do this by starting with the development of the unconditional relationship.