You might need to resist the urge to discipline your kids as much after reading this.
We’re going to discuss how sometimes, the behaviors that children demonstrate that seem to be “naughty” actually aren’t.
Sometimes due to parental frustration and general short-sightedness, it can be tough to see that some of the ways your kids are acting out are perfectly normal, and in fact need to happen for healthy development.
Here we go!
1. Resistance for the sake of independence.
Your kid wants to wear shorts and you disagree that it is too cold and tell them to go put on pants instead. Even though this can sometimes cause a screaming match, research shows it might be a better idea to just let them go in those shorts after all. Your child is doing what kids start doing as toddlers: trying to make sense of the world around them and find their place in it. Steamrolling their choices with your own creates more resistance, and their development may pay the price as well.
2. Need for lots of movement.
How many times do you tell your kids to sit still and stop chasing each other and quit jumping on the sofa throughout the day? It may be time to take them to a playground or a walk to get the need to move out of them, at least for a little bit. Kids are little bundles of energy; they have an innate need for lots of movement. Instead of chastising them for being unable to sit still, perhaps give them the chance to get it all out and exhaust themselves.
3. Expressing big feelings bigly.
When your child screams, cries, yells or shouts, they are simply demonstrating that they don’t have the wherewithal to stuff their emotions the way adults have learned to do. Author and child psychologist Janet Lansbury suggests to “let feelings be”; instead of having a strong reaction to them. When your kids know it’s safe to express their big feelings around you, they identify you as a safe place.
4. Dealing with core conditions.
By this we’re referring to things like being hungry, tired, having too much sugar, exhaustion etc. Being able to spot this in your kiddo can help prevent a meltdown. Kids don’t know they can “just grab a snack” and may not be able to communicate what exactly they need. They rely on the safe adults in their lives to help ensure they don’t have a meltdown due to a core condition not being met.
5. Massive overstimulation.
Parenting these days is, it often seems, little more than shuttling your kids from one activity to the next (to the next to the next to the next). As this amount of activity is actually quite stressful and extremely overstimulating, kids throw tantrums, have meltdowns, and lose patience quickly. Again, your kid doesn’t know how to moderate the levels of stress and activity in healthy ways, so it’s up to you to ensure there is plenty of time for resting and relaxing throughout the day as well.
6. Not being able to control impulses.
When you tell a kid not to do something and they do it anyway they’re not being disobedient to bother or rattle you in any way…they do it anyway because they’re a kid. Impulsiveness is part of being a child, and sometimes it comes off as disobedience. Before you jump to the conclusion that if that’s the case your kid must have ADHD, read this first. Sometimes kids are just being kids.
7. Consistent responses to inconsistent limits.
When your behavior towards your child’s expectations and rewards is inconsistent, your child is going to consistently behave poorly. Consider carefully the message you’re sending with rewards and expectations, and ensure you can follow through consistently.
8. Kids emulate your mood.
If you’re unhappy, stressed, angry, upset, or otherwise malevolent kids react to these moods…generally by imitating them. If you are instead grounded, patient, happy, fun-loving, and affectionate, they will mirror these moods as well.
9. Need to play.
Kids have an innate necessity for playing. Being silly, funny, laughing, and connecting on these levels is absolutely essential to a happy childhood. Reconsider it the next time you think they are “acting out” because they hid your shoes and used your makeup — it’s just their way of saying they want to be like you, and they want to have fun with you.
10. The opposite of their strengths.
Your child may be super-driven to achieve in school but be a social wallflower, play hockey like Wayne Gretzky but have trouble finishing their math homework, or be the most popular kid in school who can’t get along with their siblings. Just like adults, your child’s strengths have foils, and they are often the opposite of those strengths. They don’t need scolding…they just need some help in developing those weaknesses.
What do you think? Do your kids demonstrated some of these behaviors?
Is it surprising that they aren’t really bad behaviors after all? We’d love it if you’d share your reaction in the comments.