There’s a a more useful perspective on children’s “bad behavior” which is [drumroll] that there IS no bad or at least meaningless behavior. Every annoying, uncooperative, rebellious, mean thing a child does is done for a purpose. Nothing a child does deserves our blame. And we parents are not to blame either for our confusion, exhaustion and exasperation when we have to handle the behavior.
Children are uncooperative when they feel disconnected, have heavy feelings they’re trying to manage, or our expectations are unreasonable. All that happens a lot. What to do? Connect!
My grandson kept hitting his older sister. His mom ran up to him saying, “I am the attention monster!” And began chasing him around the room while he laughed and laughed.” After 5 minutes, he was his sweet self again.
Today, a chilly fall day, my other daughter insisted that her two and a half year old put on his jacket. The little one was not happy about it. His mom just sat by him (despite some pressure to hurry up) and listened to his upset feelings. After several minutes, he was ready to cooperate.
The principle here is that a child has a right to dislike what we want them to do. It may be necessary; they may HAVE to do it, but they have a right to their feelings about it. And it’s so useful if we can stay close while they have those feelings and work on unloading them–which, though it looks random and chaotic, is what they are doing.
What do you think?