Indeed the worst part about being a parent is putting up with whining, fighting, groveling, fussy and belligerent misbehaving kids. Going in, we had some idea that these days would happen; but probably figured that our stellar style of parenting would serve to always please our children and therefore they would be a breeze to handle for us. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 or 4 children; when they misbehave they become a less than bargained for handful and chances are the older they get the more misbehaving parents are privy to experiencing.
We can teach our children right from wrong and we can give them a superior internal grasp of morality. We can preach responsibility and accountability using terminology to suit a toddler or a teenager and no matter how hard we try we can be certain that they will bend, stretch or test the rules and limitations. This doesn’t mean that our children are bad, it just means that they are in the constant process of evolving and learning to adapt to a world that encompasses much more than just them.
Most often when children are acting out their emotions they are attempting to communicate a feeling, worry, level of stress, concern or situation that to them is incommunicable. Since they don’t have the tools or the vehicle to tell us; their stress directly affects their behavior. Many kids don’t even know what it is they are stressed about. As adults we learn to curb our attitudes and aggressions as a matter of conformity rather than choice. Children often do not have that luxury.
Probably the first thing a parent should do when threatened to insanity by misbehaving kids is to get down to the child’s level; physically and emotionally. This means on bended knee, reaching for their hands or turning their cheeks toward you so that they know and feel that they are being attended to. The behavior may be wrong or bad; but the child never is. When we speak to a child it is important to make it clear that although how they are acting is undesirable they have the power to change it and they are not bad kids. Stomping, screaming or yelling back at a misbehaving kid will only advance the separation that the child is already feeling. No person likes to feel upset or in the midst of upheaval and finding a way to distract the moment so the child can refocus on something else is always a good idea. When the heat is taken out of the situation the parent and child can calmly discuss the situation and the behavior in question.
If you have constantly misbehaving children chances are that a long and serious look needs to be taken at the household. Children react completely different to strife of any kind and are more prone to take cues about life from us than from anyone else. Perhaps the child over heard a conversation or witnessed a spousal disagreement that makes them feel unsafe. Perhaps they are having issues of sibling rivalry in the home or feeling as though they have no freedom. Sometimes children will act out as they go through life changes, experience issues with friends, struggle with school work or have unfulfilled desires of accomplishment. Misbehaving kids is always an indicator that something in the emotional pot of childhood is stirring. If a parent only focuses on the actions of the child and not the source the child will be left to suffer with problems that they may not be able to handle in any other manner than by misbehaving.
This is not to say that parents are to blame when kids misbehave. Actually there is little room for blame when it comes to families. What it is implying is that the oweness of figuring out the reason for misbehaving is the parent’s responsibility. If we approach them with matched aggression, immediate discipline or anger the child will be forced to clam up and add to their mounting emotional turmoil. If we can get a child to talk early on in life and show them that they are respected and listened to we will be able to more easily intercede when they are misbehaving.
Some misbehaving children do so simply for attention or because they can. If they get away with it at home they will never understand that their behavior is problem. On the flip side, children need to be allowed the freedom to express themselves and often times this involves misbehaving. Just like us, it is often advisable to let them cry it out or scream it out, offering support and taking no offense that the behavior is intended toward us. I have found that children who feel comfortable enough in their own homes around their own parents to throw fits and speak their mind are enabled with a freedom of personality that doesn’t force them to always be perfect to be accepted.
Misbehaving kids is something that all parents will have to deal with. How we handle them when they misbehave speaks volumes over how we handle them when they are the darling little angels of our dreams. Our role as adults is to give children solutions and choices to their behavior so that they will be able to make informed choices in the future understanding that al of their actions carry a consequence. Beyond that our job is to love unconditionally, teach constantly, model appropriate behavior always and invest in a high end set of ear plugs or muffs that will occasionally blind us to the misbehaving kids in our home.