Parenting tip – Emotions and Misbehavior
- February 28, 2020
- Posted by: LIFE International School
- Category: Parenting tips
Children often express their emotions through bad behavior. It is the way they show how furious, confused or unhappy they are feeling. They commonly unload pain and anger on the people they love. Since this is their way of making their needs heard, trying to understand them is the first step toward dealing with their bad behavior.
It is very difficult for children to express in words the emotions they feel. They have to figure out what they are feeling inside and explain it! It is complicated to express anger, or jealousy, or rejection, or abandonment, or fear, or even guilt. This does not come naturally, because communicating effectively is something that is learned!
When children experience intense negative emotions, they tend to externalize them in the wrong way. They will not be able to say: ” Dad or mom, I am very angry,” or “I feel jealous,” or “I feel frustrated”. Instead, they may argue about absurd things – that they don’t like a meal that they always liked, that they are sleepy and don’t want to do their homework, or that they want to watch another TV show different from the one the whole family is watching. They declare war, slam the door, raise their voices, and refuse to do things they have to do, all with an attitude of disrespect.
It is important to figure out the cause.
It will not be very difficult to find what is causing their bad behavior. Think about it and try to have empathy; try to put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself what has changed recently? New school? Another church? What change could be causing anxiety or insecurity?
Maybe the change comes from the home. Has anything changed in your relationship with your child? Have schedules changed and now the family doesn’t have dinner together like they did before? Or what about the way mom and dad are relating? Do they see you angry and fighting all the time? If something has changed, it can cause insecurity.
Or maybe it’s something as simple as moving to a new house. I still remember when we moved, one of my children woke up at night scared. We had to walk him around the house explaining and reminding him that this was his new house and that we were together.
Show them love and patience
Something very important that we should do when possible is to explain changes before they happen. But remember that the fact that you have explained it does not mean that they have accepted the change. Later doubts may arise and everything that they have not been able to process will come out.
We will have to help them, patiently repeating and explaining everything again. Keep in mind that the time to process the changes will depend on the child’s age and temperament. Some will do it faster and others slower. Before we moved to our new home, we had explained to our children about their new house, but it is one thing to explain and it is another thing to live it.
Remember, inappropriate behavior may be due to some change that the child does not understand. If so, it is very important to be prepared to meet your child’s need for security, love and acceptance. In my son’s story, we had to meet his need for security, hugging him and repeating: “Dad and mom are here with you and this is your new home”. That is why it is very important that, if you recognize that your children are adapting to some change, before getting angry by their behavior, make them feel safe. Be patient and expect to see results.
In summary, how can you be purposeful in your parenting? If your child is going through a big change and reacting with bad behavior, make him feel safe, with love and patience.
For Sonia Maldonado PhD (firstname.lastname@example.org)