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Dealing with your Child’s ‘Bad’ Behavior

Child Bad behavior“Seeing other people in terms of their desires rather than your own is the basic principle of loving them.”—Radhanath Swami.  

As we discussed previously, a child is a product of the environment that he or she grows in. In the formative years, the child learns everything by imitating others around. In this way, the basic skills of walking, talking, smiling, etc. are learnt. Later, more advanced skills such as putting on dress, taking a bath, reading, writing, speaking gently or harshly, etc. are learnt from people around.

So, whatever a young child knows, he or she knows it from the family. Parents are the biggest influencers of a child’s personality and character. So, when a child is doing something out of bounds, the parents have to take time to analyze their own behavioral patterns and the kind of environment they have provided their child.

What Does Your Child Need?

A child seeks two things- love and attention. So, this is the biggest quadrant that parents need to invest in. Love, as in most cases, is an action oriented word. A child, till he or she gets into puberty, perceives parental warmth physically. Parents must, therefore, add in lots of physical acts of love such as holding the child in one’s lap, cuddling, hugging and talking sweetly to the child etc.

Girls and boys act and react differently. While girl children may run up to their parents to seek such warmth, boys after they cross 5 years of age seldom run up to their parents for such warmth although they need it. The general tendency of parents, to mistake their child to be a grown up boy who might not need so much of physical affection, must be avoided.  Especially the father has to shower a lot of physical affection on his young boy. Add in this component if it has gone missing in your family; you will solve a great deal of issue with your child, including insecurities that are bound to creep in when the child does not get positive touches(physical) from the parents. These insecurities fester into social problems later in adulthood.

The second thing the child looks for from parents is attention. An infant acts coy and cute and attracts the attention of many people and the family showers the child with attention. But as the child grows up, while it still needs attention, most parents get busy with other chores and seemingly have little or no time for the child. A growing up child needs undivided positive attention up to the age of 5 and thereafter regulated time with the child every day. Note that this is not the time you spend with the child to get the homework done! Spend time with the child reading a story for him or her, or go cycling with the child, cook together something special for the child or simply play with the child.

Why Do Children Misbehave?

When the child does not get this kind of positive attention, it brings it into an incompatible situation where his or her need is unfulfilled. In such a position, the child tries various ways to get attention of the parents and what catches their attention unfortunately is when the child behaves negatively. So, the child concludes that he or she has to behave like this to get the attention of the parents. This spins off a saga of ‘so-called’ bad behavior on part of the child and reactive or abusive parental behavior. The child is gradually branded for this kind of bad behavior.

What To Do When Your Child Misbehaves?

Take heart parents! No parent is proud of such a situation in their life. But the good news is that child behavior can be changed with patience and love. This is the beauty of being a child. A child only wants love and positive attention. So, the moment you realize that you have driven the child to seek negative attention, you can break the cycle and create new and positive impressions for the child. Here are few things you can adopt to make that alteration-

  1. When the child is angry or behaving badly or throwing a tantrum, walk upto the child and in the most genuine and understanding way hug the child and rub his back. Nothing works to disarm the child like physical affection. In matter of minutes, the child will calm down.
  2. When the child is angry or not obeying you, the child wants to tell you that he/she needs to be understood or heard out first. So, take time to listen to what the child has to say. Tell the child that you understand that he/she is angry.
  3. Be careful to be controlled in your own state of mind. You cannot get angry. Have a stable core when you have to deal with your child’s temperamental behavior. The child draws his/her energies from your core. So, when you have a peaceful inside, the child will draw from that peace and soon reflect that energy.

Giving positive attention does not mean succumbing to every material demand of the child.  By defining the boundaries for the child, the child, over a period of time understands what is a legitimate demand and what is an illegitimate demand. So, stay firm on the boundaries that you draw for the child.

Remember to fill the child’s world with positive impressions from where he can draw upon in times of need. Building the child’s account with positive impressions helps the child obey you in times of your need.

Next, we will learn to say ‘no’ to a child and get the child to understand what it means.

– Mrs. Preethi Dhiman
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