When children misbehave..
Children misbehave most when they crave attention, emotional connection, autonomy, and a sense of personal power. When children misbehave, they are using their behavior to communicate unmet needs.
It’s important to remember that children often do not have the language, emotional literacy, or the insight to identify their triggers and communicate their unmet needs (after all, most adults struggle with expressing their unmet needs in relationships too).
Children (and adults) are often most reactive in situations where they are feeling unloved, unwanted, incapable, hurt, misunderstood, or powerless. Given that their brain is not fully developed, they are vulnerable to emotionally charged and impulsive behaviors when triggered.
Their misbehavior should not be confused with deliberate manipulation. What they need most from their caregivers in these instances is love, patience, understanding, and compassion (and too often, the caregivers will feel triggered and will want to exert control and punishment over the child).
By being intentional about exercising these virtues, caregivers may better understand the message that is underlying the child’s behavior.
When caregivers are calm and provide the child with the love and safety that is needed to talk through difficult thoughts and feelings, they are allowing the child to regain their sense of belonging and control by providing them with the tools necessary to communicate their needs and navigate emotionally charged situations.
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