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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Remind yourself about the things you love about your kid and tell them those things daily.
For more from Anastasia, go here.