a more useful perspective on children’s “bad” behavior

which is 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.

I think there are two principles at work. One is the right of a child to dislike what we want them to do.

I remember expecting my children to like my rules.  Understandable considering. But wrong.  Not only do they have the right to not like them, [second principle coming up] they have the right to SHOW that they don’t like them.  That’s the part I regret the most: not allowing my children to show their feelings.  It doesn’t mean we need to change the rule or limit if it’s reasonable [as a matter of fact, it’s usually important NOT to change when the child has feelings], it only requires us to listen respectfully.

Now listening effectively means different things for different children at different ages.  For small children, it’s to allow and accompany them as they tantrum or cry. For some children, it means preventing them from hurting stuff, you, or themselves.  Whatever is required, it means not blaming them.  And not distracting them.  Both methods prevent young people from unloading the disappointment, fear, rage the limit brought up.

And furthermore, it’s so much easier not to have to force children to feel different from the way they feel.  An impossible task anyway.  Give it a try if you haven’t already.


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