Lesson 089: Root cause of child misbehavior
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 5/20 ('New Ground')


Worf is a Klingon, a race of warriors that value honor and courage above all. However, his pre-teen son is behaving very negatively by lying, stealing and even bullying others in his class.

Worf proceeds to lecture his son on his bad attitude by explaining the value of honor and holding true to one's words. He tells his son that a Klingon would rather face death than act dishonorably, for to show dishonor is to bring shame to the family name.

His son quickly apologizes for his behavior and promises not to repeat his mistake. Soon after, the child is caught misbehaving in the same manner again.


In most instances, children prefer to not be talked down to by adults. They usually respond more favorably if they feel that they are being understood by the adult and not being looked upon as just a mere child.

However, the adult must remember that the child is still a child; that is they are still unable to distinguish between all things good and bad, especially when it comes to behavior.

Children learn from not only by that which is taught to them directly, but more importantly by what they experience day to day.

It is easy to understand why children exhibit attitudes detrimental to themselves when they come from homes with parents, who perhaps argue all the time, or abuse alcohol or other controlled substances, or single parents who parade different 'aunts' and 'uncles' who stay the night. These children, unfortunately, are not offered the proper guidelines to help them understand what is and is not acceptable conduct.

What is not so easy to comprehend is when a child from a very caring and nurturing family environment pursues a harmful line of behavior that is contrary to their parents teachings.

If the bad influence is not found within the family, then the child's peers must be examined. Children are most receptive to the actions of their peers, whether good or bad, mostly out of a need to be accepted within the peer group.

If the child's friends are found to not be the cause either, then there is something much deeper occurring within the child causing them to act in a wrong manner and bringing attention to them self. This is where admonishing the child for their behavior needs to be replaced with trying to root out the true motivations for their actions.

In the case of Worf, it becomes very clear that his son first felt abandoned by the untimely death of his mother, and then felt further unwanted when his father left him to be raised by his grand parents. His lashing out was his expression of frustration and anger at being left alone.

When Worf asks his son to remain with him on board the Enterprise, his son's demeanor reverses completely.

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