I asked Katherine, ‘In your book ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things’ you make a distinction between the kid and their behaviour. Can you summarize this and why it’s so important?’. Her answer:
Columbine jumps to my mind as why not seeing kids as evil is so important. The two boys at Columbine were outsiders and viewed as evil or bad kids. That is a simplification, of course, but the fact remains they seemed to accept the label and sought out the “good kids” to shoot.
All of us, kids and adults struggle with being “good.” If a kid decides the struggle is hopeless, and accepts the label of evil or bad, he is more easily drawn into behaviors that can be called evil. Some seek to excel at being evil.
Every child is born capable of good and evil behavior. The thrust seems to be toward being good, but things can go wrong and often do. Separating the child from the behavior does not mean abolishing punishment. It means maintaining a compassionate relationship. That is why my CARING response ends with going on with your caring.
In her book, ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things‘ Katherine Gordy Levine explores further why it’s so important to separate the child from their behaviour; to hate the behaviour and not the child. She offers instead a Caring Response to bad behaviour, one that maintains rules and boundaries, but keeps the parent and child connected in love and care.