Parenting is a constant process of learning and growth, a journey which allows a parent and child to learn from each other.
When children’s emotional needs are met, they feel safe, connected and confident. Your child is constantly telling you what’s going on in their inner world through their behaviour. Challenging behaviour is an expression of an unmet need. Your child has a reason to behave in the way they do, even if you don’t think it’s an acceptable one. This occurs subconsciously because they don’t know how to express what they need or feel. If you address the underlying need, you will see how the behaviour disappears. Conscious parenting involves looking for clues which expose what’s being said through a child’s behaviour.
Take a moment to think from a child’s perspective. They are always proud of their lives and achievements. For example, they find so much enjoyment in things like simple drawings they’ve made and want to show the ones they love; children also feel proud when they are able to dress themselves or accomplish almost anything. They even feel satisfaction with their new toys and everything else that is related to their world. When children behave in a way that shows a lack of personal pride, it means their inner world has probably been affected and it has become a sad place to live in. This also includes their internal sense of themselves. When a child’s perception of themselves is weakened, it rises to the surface and is shown through their actions. Such behaviours are a cry for help, revealing an unmet need and a lack of ability to make better choices. Like adults, children struggle with pain, however they often use different strategies to cope with it. They may cover up their hurt by actions such as swearing, sticking their tongue out or screaming. The truth is they are asking for help.
When you learn how to decipher the clues, you can get to the root of the behaviour and therefore provide your child with the guidance and support they need. I know, most of the time it is difficult to understand the meaning behind their actions. Sometimes we struggle to understand even our own reactions, so how can we understand those of another? Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help with this process:
What is my child trying to tell me through their actions? What is the truth behind their behaviour? What do they truly need?
Sometimes we are so focused on the behaviour itself, that we forget to consider the underlying factors. When children show disrespect on one level it is something superficial. When we respond at this level, we perpetuate the behaviour. Their reaction is happening on an emotional level and they are reacting to your energy. Discipline may stop the behaviour of that moment, but children will turn to another behaviour and this process will repeat until the root cause is founded and addressed. The reality is that the more you punish your child, the more they’ll resist you. Next time, rather than focusing on their defiance, direct your attention to the fact that from your child’s perception, they have lost connection with you.
The only way to stop challenging behaviour is to understand that your child is trying to express a need and requires your support. You will need to reconnect with your child for them to feel engaged with you and value what you are asking of them. Click here to get a deeper understanding in regards to emotional connection and how to build a stronger bond with them. Your child needs to perceive their responsibilities as a valid contribution on their part and not simply as an imposition.
When we tell children “stop crying”, what we are really saying is “stop making me feel uncomfortable and anxious”, which are feelings that come from us and have nothing to do with them. That is why it’s essential to differentiate who you are from who your child is. At the root of the trigger lies an expectation. What expectation did you put on them? Is it realistic?
Your child came into this world to teach you about yourself and how you can develop, as well as you being here to teach them. Through each challenge, you both grow; with each mistake, you learn a lesson, together.