As adults, we use reasoning, critical thinking, and try to make informed choices most of the time. Our behaviour reflects our ability to think and process our emotions. Our kids also show how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking through their behaviour. Children have the same basic needs as most adults, love /belonging, safety, self-esteem/ confidence, play, and acceptance. But since children aren’t as emotionally attuned or capable of thinking critically as adults, they manifest it in ways that make sense to them and we interpret those as misbehaviours.
Reasons Why Children Misbehave
A few reasons behind your child’s misbehaviour
- Learned behaviour
- Testing boundaries
- Inability to regulate emotions and solve problems
- Wanting to be confident and independent
- Mental health issues
Attention: children our dependent on adults and hence need a lot of our attention. Their survival depends on it. Infants also try to initiate interaction and vie for our attention by smiling or babbling as they understand that it’s a reliable way to get their parents involved.
When children feel that their need for attention is not being met emotionally or physically, making them feel unheard, they may engage in behaviour that might provide them the attention they need. This behaviour more often than not is what we categorize as misbehaviours. for example, when your child yells and screams often, throws things around, starts crying when you leave, jumps on the furniture.
Learned behaviour: children learn how to behave by watching others it could be their family members, their peers, or a cartoon character. Kids repeat what they see. If they see their family members not communicating their emotions effectively, they pick that up, if they see a cartoon character being snarky and rude, they pick that up, if they see their friends crying and that behaviour helping them to solve their problem, they pick that up too.
Testing boundaries: As parents, we often put down certain rules and consequences of breaking those rules. Children tend to sometimes test those boundaries to see if there will be serious consequences. We oftentimes, forget to consistently deliver the consequences and end up rewarding the negative behaviour to get rid of the situation.
Inability to regulate emotions and solve problems: Sometimes negative behaviour is caused because the child has not learned how to solve a problem or regulate their emotions. For example: when a child yells “I HATE YOU” or “GO AWAY” it’s because they aren’t able to recognize their emotions and express them effectively. When a child gets hyper around guests and might say inappropriate things, its possibly because they need help regulating their emotions.
Wanting to be confident and independent: One of our basic needs is to be confident. As kids learn new skills, they tend to want to show them off. As they grow older, they gain more knowledge and tend to be more argumentative. They also want to show adults that they can think for themselves and make choices.
Mental health issues: sometimes mental health issues like ADHD can contribute to behavioural problems like behaving impulsively or not following instructions. Anxiety and depression can also cause behavioural problems like being irritable or not wanting to go to school because it causes them anxiety.
Read more about Parenting –
How to Manage Kids Misbehaviours?
Learning to be a calm parent: Scolding, nagging, punishing doesn’t work if one wants to manage their behaviour without damaging your relationship. The child may throw a tantrum but it is important to not respond with an adult tantrum, it may solve the immediate problem but it only shows the kid that the loudest and biggest tantrum wins. They also learn from your behaviour and the behaviour around them so regulate your emotions and role model healthy behaviour.
Recognizing the root of the problem: Understand what need of theirs is not being met. The child might be hungry, exhausted, needing some comfort and safety, or most of all your attention. When a child is trying to meet its need of feeling like they’re in control and confident, provide them with choices. For example, “Would you rather clean this room now or once you’re done with this tv show?” by offering them choices, we give them some control over the situation helping them meet their need to be confident. This reduces a lot of arguments and increases the likelihood of the child complying with your instructions.
Help your child develop problem-solving skills and regulate their emotions: when you see your child not being able to solve a problem, teach them how to. When your child throws a tantrum or yells and cries, hold them so they don’t hurt themselves. Help them understand that when they have calmed down you would be happy to talk about the problem. Once the child calms down, quietly talk to them about what happened, what they were feeling, what they could’ve done differently, and make sure you apologize if you think you were in the wrong.
Give them positive affirmations: One needs to build a lot of positive interactions with your child. Talk to them, hug them, play with them, be interested in their interests. Praise and acknowledge your child when they do something right. Positive affirmations are far more effective than punishments.
If you suspect your child might have mental health concerns causing behavioural issues, talk to a mental health professional or counselors for an evaluation. It will help determine any underlying emotional issues causing the negative behaviours.
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