Understanding your own feelings is key to figuring out why your child is behaving in a way you don’t like, says Dr. Nanda Shaheen.
To understand a child’s behaviour requires that you, the adult, look inwards. We can gain insight into the purpose of a child’s behaviour by the way it makes the adult feel. Instead of instantly reacting to the behaviour, it can help to ask yourself: “How is this making me feel right now? Which of the basic emotional needs requires attention?”
If you feel:
Powerless and out of control – The main purpose of their behaviour is to gain power and control. Children have the need to be able to control and influence their surroundings (especially if their home environment is out of their control). They will try and control the events occurring around them and make them consistent with their own desires. When they cannot control their environment they may become rebellious and defiant.
Hurt – The main purpose of the child’s behaviour is revenge. If a child feels threatened or attacked they will try to protect themselves. This may be fabricated. They may perceive that they are being singled out or victimised, even if they aren’t.
Annoyed and irritated – The main purpose of the child’s behaviour is to get attention. Children need to belong and valued as a human being. The strongest motivator of a child’s behaviour is to get attention.
Discouraged and helpless – The child’s behaviour is a reflection of their inability to cope with the task at hand. Children will withdraw and escape reality if they are feeling unable to cope with a task or situation. This is their defence mechanism – to protect their immature sense of ego.
So…. next time you are faced with a child’s behaving badly – work out:
- How you are feeling?
- Based on that, which of your child’s emotional needs should be addressed?
Then, disengage from the behaviour.
Please email scenarios or situations that you are finding challenging to: Dr Nanda Shaheen, and she will respond to them personally.