A mother once has a concern that her 4-year-old still draws on walls, shows tantrums on almost everything like food, clothing, and even while watching TV. He is very choosy and moody. She was very upset with this behavior of her son. She had tried every method… but eventually failed. Does he ever stop misbehaving and understands what he’s doing is totally wrong?
This is the story of almost every parent. Everyone has to undergo this phase where their children are misbehaving. Obviously no parent wants their child to behave inappropriately in front of others or even to themselves. Kids use their behavior to demonstrate how they’re feeling and what’s cooking inside their heads. Usually, they’re communicating something through their behavior that they are certainly not able to verbalize.
I’ve seen hundreds of children and their parents in my professional career and have never once seen a “bad” kid. Every single child, when encountered with understanding and patience, can be guided along a path that leads to vibrant and meaningful life. When we pass negative judgments on children, we are just mistakenly moving blame for our own emotions and insecurities onto our children’s “nature.”
If you listen carefully, Misbehavior is a cry for help- a cry that we, as parents and adults, need to answer with empathy and understanding, not with punishment.
Parents need to understand that there is a reason behind every action of their child. And if they are behaving in an undesirable way, then you must look deeper. There are certain reasons that they might behave in that way, you can take a look down below. Although these might be working for some and yet not for everyone. So, do study your child carefully and then take essential steps accordingly.
- They Want Attention
Parents usually are at the office or when they are at home they talk on the phone for hours, might be visiting with friends or family, or otherwise occupied all the time, kids feel left out. And thus they throw a tantrum, whining, or hitting a sibling as it is a great way to attract attention.
No matter if it’s negative attention, kids still crave it. Well, ignoring negative behavior and praising positive ones is the best way to deal with attention-seeking behaviors.
- They’re Copying Others
Kids learn how to behave by studying others. Whether they see other kids at school misbehaving or they’re parodying something they’ve seen on TV, kids will try to imitate it.
Limit your kids’ exposure to disruptive behavior on TV, in video games, and also in real life. Parents can try to adopt healthy behavior to teach your child the appropriate way to behave in various situations.
- They Can’t Control Their Emotions
Most of the time kids have no idea what to do about their feelings. They may easily be confused when they feel angry, and as a result, they may become aggressive. They may even act similarly when they feel excited, stressed, or bored.
Kids need to learn healthy ways to deal with feelings such as grief, disappointment, failure, and anxiety. Teach kids about their feelings and show them salutary ways to manage their emotions to prevent them from misbehaving.
When kids have much control over their emotions, they can use healthy coping skills to deal with their feelings. Rather than misbehaving to express their emotions, a child may learn to take a time-out to calm themselves down.
- Misbehavior Is Effective
One of the simplest reasons children misbehave is because it is powerful. If breaking the rules gets them what they want, they’ll immediately learn that misbehavior works.
For example, a child who cries until his mother gives up will learn that whining is a great way to get whatever he wants. Or a child who throws a rage outburst in the middle of the store, and his father agrees to buy him a toy to get him to stop screaming, learns that temper tantrums are quite effective.
- They have a lack of consistent discipline.
Yes, the good old-fashioned discipline still works and is a cornerstone of effective and successful parenting. Discipline may take on different forms for different families, but nonetheless, it’s needed, and consistency is the key.
How to help our child if they are misbehaving:
- Use it as a teaching moment i.e guide and coach them.
Acting out is nearly always a teaching moment. If our children are behaving inappropriately, then we can guide them to behave in a more relevant way. Sometimes the teaching can occur at the moment and other times, it may happen once everyone has calmed down.
For instance, when your child might lose it at the shopping mall. But then you have to wait until you’re home to talk through what happened and how they could have behaved differently. You should guide and coach them rather than punishing them.
Stay connected by seeing their point of view, so they are motivated to develop self-control. When humans lash out they bite their nails, breaking things, rebellion, it’s because they feel scared or hurt. That upset disconnects your child from you, even if you’re ordinarily close. But their motivation to behave comes from their connection with you, so you have to re-establish the connection before you can influence their behavior. As soon as you see your child getting upset and pushing off the limits of acceptable behavior, move in close and grab the perfect opportunity to connect.
2. Set limits with empathy.
Of course, none of this prevents you from setting limits. It’s our utmost responsibility to supervise our kids. However, all humans resist being controlled. Kids of all ages are more likely to follow our supervision when we understand their perspective. Teach them when they’re done eating, stop there and there, instead of throwing food everywhere.
3. Identify the stressors in your children’s lives
Stress in children usually involves disappointments in their relationships, schoolwork, and other purposeful activities, or having too much to do in too limited time. Although stress can also be hidden and have biological sources. For instance, some children are highly distressed by too much noise, light, or odor, and this can cause ongoing problems in their lives that may be concealed from you. Stressors can come from many sources like biological, emotional, and social domains—so it’s essential to consider all of these.
Though our environment may be highly stressful for our children, we often neglect information that could alert us to this fact. That doesn’t mean that their unconscious mind isn’t registering the stress and responding with stress, though, which can lead a fight, escape, or freeze response.
Parents can look for patterns of behavior such as children always breaking down around a specific time to help figure out what their children’s stressors are perhaps they are hungry at that hour. Or, if it’s less noticeable, try reviewing in your head the different domains of their lives and what might be generating stress. Whatever you do, don’t become a further strain on them by reacting in anger or judgment. Alternatively, try to listen and calmly and peacefully affirm what seems to be going on for your children.
4. Hear them out.
Listening is particularly important. Let your child finish the whole story before helping them through the conclusion. Keep an eye for times when misbehavior has a pattern, like when your child is feeling jealous. Talk with your child about this rather than just giving them consequences and time outs.
5. Give them your attention.
The most powerful tool for effective discipline is to reinforce good behaviors and warn others. Remember, children just want their parent’s attention.
Parents can really teach their kids about behaving and its importance. Kids will get the idea that they are supposed to behave in a particular manner. We need to be there for them when they need us the most. We can go through that phase together and they can be handled. So, don’t stress over your kid’s behavior, give them time, and be patient.