Why Children Misbehave, Disobey – Psychiatrist

The Head, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCH, Ibadan, Dr Tololupe Bella-Awusah, says that the upstair brain, that controls action and behaviour is not yet matured or still developing in children.

Bella-Awusah made the observation in an interview, on the sidelines of a scientific conference organised by the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Yaba, yesterday in Lagos.

She noted that the human brain was made up of the upstair and downstair brain; which their functions generally were to keep human being alive and safe.

Bella-Awusah stated that the downstair brain was mainly responsible for breathing and emotional feelings, while the upstair brain controls behaviour, actions and thinking in human being.

According to her, the downstair brain is usually developed before birth, while the upstair brain develops and matures when an individual reaches 25 years of age.

The psychiatrist regretted that parents and caregivers inflict different kinds of corporal punishment such as spanking, flogging or slapping on children, in a bid to discipline and correct their bad behaviours and actions.

“The upstair brain that controls actions develops/matures in a human being at the age of 25; as a result, it is absent in children.

“And until a child reaches that age, he/she can’t have the articulation and intellectual ability for a good or perfect behaviour.

“This is why a child, after being beaten over a particular action, the same child goes back to repeat that act or even do the worst,” Bella-Awusha said.

She stated that the development and maturity of the upstair brain could only be attained when a child grows to the age of 25.

According to her, the body system development cannot be rushed or fast-forwarded, saying that it will develop and starts to function well at its maturity stage.

Bella-Awusah, therefore, advised parents and caregivers to give the necessary support, care and love to their children, to help grow and reach the age at which the upstair would be developed for them to know the rights and wrongs.

The psychiatrist, however, admitted that children should not be allowed to do anything they like, advising that other disciplinary measures rather than corporal punishment should be applied.

“Just the way a new born baby can’t start walking or sitting the day he/she is born, the baby grows to start walking or talking when he gets to the stage.

“The same is applicable to intellectual mentality, unless a child reaches the 25 years average age, the psychotic reasoning will not be complete.

“So, there is no need for beating or bullying children with the intention to discipline/correct them, instead, apply other disciplinary measures; which social deprivation is one of them,” she said.

Contributing, Dr Mashudat Bello-Mojeed, Head, Child and Adolescent Centre, Oshodi Annex of the Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital Yaba, said that parents were critical element in the upbringing of a child.

Bello-Mojeed, also a psychiatrist, said that parents owe the responsibility of inculcating good morals in their children, which she said could be achieved through training and retraining of the children.

According to her, corporal punishment is not an effective form of corrective measure, as it does not improve behaviour, rather, it inflicts injury, physical and emotional pains.

She emphasised the need to look beyond children’s behaviours, but to focus on addressing the causative factors.

“We should be looking out for what is driving the particular behaviour a child exhibits at any point in time.

“For instance, a child is disturbing and crying profusely; try to find out if that child is either hungry or facing some sort of challenges and address it,” Bello-Mojeed said.

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