Misbehavior isn’t random. You already know that. Kids often misbehave at very inconvenient times! It happens particularly when we, the parent figures, are in a hurry. It is a consistent (and predictable) pattern. Are they out to “get” you? Well, yes and no. They are not out to “get” you in the sense that you will be bothered, annoyed, trapped or otherwise challenged. They are out to “get” you in the sense that they are seeking a connection with you.
Feelings and emotions, Growing Responsibility, Mistakes yours and theirs, Self-care, Setting limits, Tips & Tools
The real question for all of us is: What invites us to respond in drastic ways to our childrens’ misbehavior and mistakes? My hunch is that is fear. Many of the parents I work with are afraid when their children lie, steal, are mean to their siblings, swear, wear sexually provocative clothing, investigate pornography online, start cutting, text or sext at all hours of day or night, smoke pot…etc.
why don’t kids do what we tell them to do? Radical thought: maybe because we are telling them. When you tell someone what to do they don’t have to think. They can listen or not listen – but then it goes away. Your daughter doesn’t have to think about or notice the mess, or her unfinished homework, or the chore she didn’t do or remember to write a thank you note. You are doing the noticing (and reminding) for her. In fact, when we parents do all the noticing and telling their brains don’t have to engage much at all! What a life!
Connection and love, Feelings and emotions, Growing Responsibility, Mistakes yours and theirs, Self regulation, Tips & Tools
Children (and all of us) do better when they feel better. Our culture tends to want to “teach” children who are misbehaving by having them feel worse “so they’ll learn not to do it again.” We forget that if the child had felt included, important, or weren’t so tired or hungry she likely would have handled the situation well to begin with. Instead of teaching by hurting the goal of a time-in is to help our child learn how to regain their “better” sense of self so that she can come back to the situation and meet the challenge. With practice, children get better at “re-gathering” by themselves. Remember, this kind of “feeling better” is not happiness - it is a sense of being able to respond (be response-able) from a centered place.