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Changing Bad Behavior

by Greg Baker  
3/23/2010 / Family


The goal of every parent and authority when dealing with bad behavior is to find some way to correct it. This can be very challenging to say the least and depending on the level of influence you have in that person's life, may very well be close to impossible.

Despite that, most people don't know what even causes bad behavior. In this article, bad behavior is the reaction to a given event. An uncontrollable child is the result of little or no training. But a teenager who gets angry at the drop of a hat is the type of bad behavior we are talking about here.

WHAT AFFECTS BEHAVIOR? Attitude does.

Our attitudes on life, circumstances, and people cause us to react in the way we do. If you have a bad attitude about something, then you will have behavior that matches.

Take a driver who is cut off in traffic. If his resulting attitude is negative, he will exhibit bad behavior. He may cuss, swear, tailgate, give the finger, or deliver a scathing insult. But if his attitude is positive, he will be gracious and forgiving.

WHAT AFFECTS ATTITUDE? Perception does.

How we see life, our point of view, always determines our attitudes. Taking the example of the driver again, if he believes that the other driver of the car cut him off on purpose, his attitude will be negative and so will his behavior. But if he believes that the other driver is merely in a hurry because he is rushing his wife to the hospital to deliver a baby, he will have a much more pleasant attitude and behavior.

How we see things determines our attitudes. Almost anyone who has lost a loved one to a violent gun crime will be against guns and want them banned. But anyone who has saved his family's life with a gun will have completely different attitudes and thus the behavior will be different.

Two men are watching another man rushing towards a cliff to jump off. The first one, yawns, looks at his watch and mutters, "Come on! Jump already! Get it over with."

The second man begins running after the jumper in an effort to stop him. He screams, "Don't jump! Don't jump!" He is almost in a panic to stop the man from jumping.

Why is the behavior of the two men so vastly different? The first one is a stunt coordinator for a movie set. The jumper is a stunt man and this is his tenth time today jumping off this cliff. It is perfectly safe, and the first man just wants it to end so he can go home to his family.

The second man just walked onto the scene. He has no idea what is going on and thinks that the jumper is attempting to commit suicide. He does everything in his power to stop him from jumping.

Their vastly different perceptions caused widely different attitudes which in turn created completely different behaviors.

If you want to change a person's behavior, you must first change his attitudes. But to change his attitudes, you must change his perceptions on things around him.

WHAT AFFECTS PERCEPTION? Influence and exposure does.

What we have been exposed to in life will invariably effect our perceptions on life. Someone who has been ganged raped may see men in a different light than a virgin on her wedding night. Someone who has been exposed to negativity in religion will have different attitude towards God than someone who hasn't.

I met a teenager once who told me he didn't believe in God. I asked him if his parents believed in God. He said yes. I asked him if his parents ever went to Church and if he went with them. He said no. Here was a young man who had never been exposed to the possibility of God and therefore had a negative attitude towards God. I spent thirty minutes explaining things from the Bible and his entire attitude and behavior changed.

Take a person with a temper problem. If you can expose him to the consequences of anger and show him how dangerous it is, his preconceptions and attitudes may change. So will his temper.

I told an atheist once that if he would come to my Church for two months and just listen, not make any judgment, and really listen and consider what was said in the sermons, that he would not remain an atheist. He took me up on it, to my surprise. Within two weeks, he trusted Jesus as his Saviour and got baptized.

The new exposure and experiences changed his perception and therefore his attitude towards God and church. He is now one of my deacons.

How many of us once hated someone, but with the right exposure and experiences with that person our entire attitude and behavior changed towards that person? I dare say this happens a lot.

Change the exposure, you change the perception. Change the perception, you change the attitude. Change the attitude and you change the behavior.

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