Welcome to Chapter 25!

Here’s where we are in the Universal Blueprint® Problem-Solving System / PASRR Formula:

If you’ve read the Prevention Toolbox, Child Problem Toolbox and Parent Problems Toolbox chapters of the Parents Toolshop® Guidebook, you’ve already learned how to:

Prevent Problems from starting or worsening, with the Prevention Toolbox.

Acknowledge the child’s feelings, with the Child Problem Toolbox:.

Set limits and express concerns, with the Parent Problem Toolbox.

In the Misbehavior Toolbox chapters you will learn how to:

Redirect misbehavior, with the PO Toolset

Today’s chapter focuses on intentional misbehavior and what you can do about it. In the last chapter, you learned to teach skillsstarstarstarstarstar (one of the five-star tools) to redirect unintentional behavior. This lesson uses the remaining four five-star tools (starstarstarstarstar) with each of the four types of intentional behavior.

Remember Question #2, “Is the misbehavior ‘Unintentional’ or ‘On Purpose,'”? To answer it, consider the following:

If the following statements are true, you are most likely facing PO behavior:

  1. You have consistently seen that the child has mastered the skills to behave appropriately in similar situations.
  2. You are positive the child knows better and hasn’t forgotten or doesn’t need more practice.
  3. The child seems to be doing this deliberately and may even be looking for or expecting a reaction. (If this statement is true, it’s definitely on purpose!)

Once you are sure it’s really PO behavior, you want to take three steps to redirect it

1. Answer Question #3: If it’s On purpose, what’s the purpose? There are only four possible answers: children want Attention, Power, Revenge, or they are Giving up. To tell which of these “goals” the child has, ask the following questions and look for certain clues that are common signs of that goal.

a.    How do I feel when I see this behavior? Since all intentional problem behavior can cause you to feel angry, and anger is a secondary emotion, you want to look for the underlying feeling that is causing your anger. Different feelings are clues to the different goals of intentional misbehavior.
b.    What am I tempted to do? Your feelings and temptations are clues that help you identify the purpose, but you don’t want to act on them. Gut reactions usually escalate the situation or give a payoff.
c.     If I did this (my gut reaction), how would the child react? If you carried out your gut reaction, would you give the behavior a payoff? Would it escalate the situation? How would the child interpret your actions? Would the behavior get better or worse? Would the short term result have long-term negative consequences? These are all clues to the goal.

2. Avoid Reacting, Which Escalates the Situation or Gives a Payoff. This is a tricky step, because you need to be in touch with your gut feelings, but avoid acting on them (the very thing you’re tempted to do in (1b) above). This is harder than it sounds! You must keep your cool and resist the urge to react.

3. Redirect the Behavior
In each case, you want to show children how to meet their purpose through positive behavior. Sometimes you’ll try to meet the need directly, through your response. Other times, you’ll use problem solving to brainstorm more appropriate ways children can meet their purposes.

Listen to the Misbehavior teleseminar for more techniques on effectively responding to misbehavior.  After listening to the audi, get this cheat sheet for your fridge. You can also refer to it as you read the next section, to see how to match each five-star tool (starstarstarstarstar) with one type of misbehavior.

Applying the Four Steps to the Four Goals 


1) Reinforce positive/prevent negative: Prevent the problem by using any of the following tools: plan ahead, spend time together, give attention unexpectedly, involve child, recognize the child’s efforts.

2) Identify the goal of Attention:

a) I feel … Annoyed, irritated, personal space violated.

b) I’m tempted to … Remind, nag, give undue service, say “Stop, Don’t, or Quit” or “Leave me alone,” or ignore the behavior.

c) If  I do … Negative attention or special service will give the negative behavior a payoff. Only ignoring the behavior will cause the behavior to escalate.

3) Avoid Reacting: The behavior will only temporarily stop, escalate, or the child will try new behaviors to keep me involved.

4) Redirect:

a) Stop only once.

b) In one sentence, Acknowledge the child’s feelings and Set limits or express concerns.

c) To Redirect the misbehavior, use “Don’t Say Don’tstarstarstarstarstar” to tell the child how to get attention in an acceptable way. What you suggest must be a meaningful activity or something that communicates that you understand their needs.

d) Reveal discipline: You must break the cycle before disciplining. Decide what you will do, not what you will make the child do. Reveal that you are going to ignore the negative behavior. You’ll learn more details about this tool in Lesson 27-28.

e) Then follow through — ignore the behavior, not the child.

f) You can resume giving attention with the child is using positive behavior or isn’t expecting or demanding it.


In power struggles, the child’s behavior says, “I won’t.”

1) Reinforce positive/prevent negative: Prevent the problem by using any of the following tools: offering children choices within limits, ask for their help, build teamwork, word requests in positive words, involve children in decisions, teach skills or let children find their own style or way of reaching the goal.

2) Identify the goal of Power:

a) I feel … provoked, that my authority is being challenged.

b) I’m tempted to … Argue, exert more power, “I’ll show you who’s the boss,” or give in.

c) If  I do … Arguing escalates the power struggle. Giving in gives the child a payoff.

3) Avoid Reacting: If you exert more power, the child will passively or aggressively defy you. If you give in, the child gets what he or she wants.

4) Redirect:

a) Keep your cool. Be kind and firm.

b) In one sentence, Acknowledge the child’s feelings and Set limits or express concerns.

c) Redirect by offering choices within bottom-line limitsstarstarstarstarstar. Decide what you will do, not what you’ll make child do.

d) Disengage. Refuse to argue — it takes two to argue.

e) Reveal discipline: You must break the cycle before disciplining. Continue using the language of choices to reveal the discipline, which you’ll learn how to do in Lesson 27-28.


The root of all revenge is hurt.

1) Reinforce positive/prevent negative: Prevent the problem by using any of the following tools: use listening and communication to avoid hurting feelings, teach assertive, respectful conflict resolution skills.

2) Identify the goal of revenge

a)  I feel … hurt, physically or emotionally. Disappointed, shock or disbelief, disgusted.

b) I’m tempted to … hurt back or show hurt, “How could you do this to me?”

c) If  I do … Showing hurt gives a payoff. Retaliation escalates revenge cycles.

3) Avoid Reacting:         If you show hurt, the child will know the revenge worked. If you retaliate, the revenge cycle will continue, “Oh yeah, well ….”

4) Redirect:

a) Disengage. Cool off.

b) Rebuild trust by Acknowledging the child’s hurt first. Use F-A-X Listeningstarstarstarstarstar to resolve the hurt if possible.

c) Set limits or express concerns to address the revengeful behavior.

d) Redirect the behavior by brainstorm acceptable ways to express anger. You must break the revenge cycle before disciplining.

e) Reveal discipline: suggest the child make amends for the hurtful thing they did. More about that in Lessons 27-28.


Giving Up behavior will always be passive. The child’s behavior says, “I can’t.”

1) Reinforce positive/prevent negative: Prevent the problem by using any of the following tools: Give a D.I.P., by describing any effort or improvement. Teach skills.

2) Identify the goal of giving up:

a) I feel … Frustrated, discouraged, hopeless, tired, or frustrated.

b) I’m tempted to … Help, rescue, praise, pressure the child, give up, or expect less.

c) If  I do … Rescuing, giving up or expecting less gives a payoff. Praise and pressure escalates the behavior. The child will feel more incompetent and fail to respond.

3) Avoid Reacting: Avoid all praise, criticism and comparisons. Don’t rescue, give up, or pity.

4) Redirect:

a) In one sentence, Acknowledge the child’s feelings and Set limits or express concerns.

b) Redirect: Give a D.I.P.starstarstarstarstar, using descriptive encouragement. Focus on any effort or improvement, no matter how small. Express faith in abilities. Build on interests and strengths.

c) If the child is trying to learn something and is feeling overwhelmed, break the task into smaller parts and focus on a different step for a while. Use problem-solving to come up with ideas for how the child could think differently about the task or try something different.

Important Points to Remember:

  • Children can use emotions, rather than behavior, to meet any of the four goals. For example, children can “turn on the tears” to get attention or their way. They can cry to get revenge, hoping parents will feel bad for “making kids cry.” They can cry out of despair and discouragement.
  • One behavior can serve more than one purpose. The next time you see the same behavior, the goal might be different. For example, when children don’t clean their rooms, we must first eliminate the possibility that the behavior is really PU. Do they have the skills and consistently shown us they can do the chore? If so, and we are sure it’s PO, they might be seeking attention to get us involved. They could also be exerting power, challenging us to “make them.” They might refuse to clean their room as a payback for a hurt. Children may feel so overwhelmed and incapable they give up. The only way to tell which goal it is in each instance is to ask the three clue-finding questions (Step 1 above).
  • As you respond, the goal can change; if it does, you’ll feel a shift in your feelings. Adjust your response according to the new goal you detect. For example, if a child is Giving up on homework and you praise them (instead of giving a D.I.P.) they might start “acting dumb” to get attention. You will feel the shift, from feeling compassionate to feeling manipulated. With time, you’ll see the clues more quickly and can respond more helpfully.
    • In a PO problem, always Redirect the behavior before moving to the next step, Reveal Discipline. Skipping this step can turn discipline into punishment, escalate the problem, or give a payoff. Here are some examples:
      • If you immediately discipline attention-seeking behavior, you just gave a payoff. You’ve heard the saying, “Negative attention is better than no attention at all!”
      • If you discipline in a power struggle, the child will interpret it as a power play and it will escalate the power struggle. Or, if you win the power struggle, the child may resort to revenge to get back at you for making them lose.
      • If you discipline in a revenge cycle, the child will interpret it as revengeful punishment, will not learn from the discipline, and will seek revenge on you later.
      • If you discipline a child who is Giving Up, the child will feel even more discouraged and will completely give up even trying.

By knowing how to identify and resolve the root cause of PO misbehavior, you will:

  • Have children who take the initiative to fix their mistakes. In fact, children will have often already taken care of a problem before you even know there is one — now that’s self-discipline!
  • Have children who admit they are wrong and seek out ways to make things right.
  • Have children who have a sense of fairness and impose discipline or restrictions on themselves.
  • Avoid accidentally escalating a situation by disciplining too soon or too harshly.
  • Avoid using discipline inappropriately or in unhealthy ways, which turns it into punishment and has negative long-term side effects.
  • Eliminate problem behavior by using discipline to teach.
  • Have children who are self-controlled, self-disciplined and self-responsible. You no longer struggle to control your children — your children control themselves!
  • Feel better about yourself when you discipline, because you don’t have to be the “bad guy.”
  • Discipline in ways that make sense to children, so they learn faster and don’t resent you.
  • Discipline so respectfully, children don’t feel humiliated or shameful, don’t think you are just “being mean,” don’t seek revenge, and “get” the lesson, usually the first time.


The last step of the PASRR Effective Response Formula is Discipline, which you’ll learn about lesson 27-28. Redirecting misbehavior is quite possibly the most important step of the PASRR formula and the one most parents skip. In fact, if you skip this step it almost doesn’t matter what discipline you use, it will either not get results or get turned into punishment (I’ll explain why in that lesson.) So it’s important to really grasp this lesson.

1) Take a misbehavior that seems intentional.

2) Plan the first three steps of the PASRR formula:

a) How can I Prevent it?  If it happens again, what will I say?

In one sentence:

b) Acknowledge the child’s feelings.

c) Set limits or express concerns.

3) Now plan what to do, by Redirecting it, using the steps above:

a) What is the child’s goal?

b) What do I need to avoid doing?

c) How can I show the child how to meet this purpose through positive behavior?

4) Feel free to share your plan in the comment section below so you can get support and ideas for your response and see how others are doing. Be sure to check back in later to report your results!

Here is a list of the recommended resources in this lesson: