The Place


There’s no such thing as a bad kid

Posted at 1:41 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-19 15:41:17-04

Therapist Anastasia Pollock tells us why there is no such thing as a bad kid.

When a child is having problems with behavior, it is easy to label them as a “bad kid”. In all my years of practice and working with kids who are engaging in all degrees of disruptive behaviors, I have never met a bad kid. On the contrary, I have met kids who are trying to communicate and get needs met in a way that is misunderstood.

-As a child’s brain develops, it is normal for them to want to explore and push boundaries. This can be frustrating to parents and can be seen as defiance and disrespect.

-Sometimes parents to react to the boundary pushing behaviors of children by either becoming angry or shutting down or a combination of both.

-It is important for parents to see that this pattern of getting angry and shutting down will make behaviors worse and will drive a wedge in the relationship between parent and child.

What to do instead:

  1. Check yourself. Monitor your own level of stress. If it is high (you want to yell, punish harshly, or feel like you are going to lose it), take a break and calm down. If you find that you completely shut down and want to withdraw, take some time to take care of yourself.
  1. Children don’t always know how to communicate with language so they communicate with behavior. Think of a baby. They don’t have language but they communicate through crying, smiling, laughing, squirming, grimacing, etc. Children and teens are not so different. Try to see behavior as a means of communication. Ask yourself what your child might be trying to communicate or what need they are trying to get met.
  1. Validate your child’s need. Even if it into something you can give into (maybe they want a tattoo, for example) you can at least validate their desire. Be careful to not dismiss their desires, even if they seem silly or reckless to you.
  2. It’s easy to find things to which you want to say no. Instead of focusing on those, find areas where you can allow your child to explore and push limits safely.
  3. Remind yourself about the things you love about your kid and tell them those things daily.

For more from Anastasia, go here.