Bad Behaviour

8:30pm Thursday, December 2 on TV One

Problem with a child’s behaviour? Warwick Dyer is the man to call and the specialist who arguably began the boom in parenting programmes back in 2003 in a critically acclaimed episode of UK documentary series, Cutting Edge.

In Bad Behaviour three sets of parents with unmanageable children have decided to enlist the help of Dyer, ex-teacher and expert in child behaviour. He sets rules for the parents to follow and asks that they report to him by phone each day. The results are staggering, based on Dyer’s belief that the source of the children’s bad behaviour often lies firmly with the parents and the best way to help children is to teach them the consequences of their actions.

In episode one Dyer helps Sally and Colin Web and their son Ben who live in Southampton. Ben’s school regard him as a health and safety risk and Sally has had to give up work to look after him.

Dyer will never meet Ben and will only meet Sally and Colin once, learning all he needs to know in a single meeting, followed by weekly phone calls.

Dyer explains to Ben’s parents what he believes is the heart of the issue, “Ben is the most important person in this family because he sees and wants everything to revolve around him. Now that’s very difficult to give up, he is the centre of attention for what he does. And what he does is completely inappropriate but you see he’s not behaving badly, he’s behaving in the way that he can, and does behave and it’s not something to get angry about he can no more help it himself then we can stop breathing.”

Dyer believes Ben has faced no consequences in his life and that this has had an affect on all his relationships: “Once he is accepting the principle of being wrong his whole life will change. He will be able to have friends because he will be able to give and take, because you [his parents] will have trained him gradually over the weeks to do things that he didn’t think he wanted to do, to lose in a way. This will revolutionise his life, it will enable him at some stage to get back into school.”

Dyer is clear that his parents must not say anything about his existence as the only way for them to gain authority is if Ben thinks the new regime is all their idea.

The results are amazing, Sally explains, “before we started I had no control over him at all he was just this horrible aggressive, nasty boy. The training is definitely working. It’s weird it suddenly hit me that I actually feel normal like I did even before I had babies.”

Missed an episode of Bad Behaviour? Full episodes are available online. Go to tvnz.co.nz and click the ‘Ondemand’ button.