When your child is always misbehaving, shouting at the top of his/her lungs, throwing tantrums, running around like a maniac and downright defiant, it’s frustrating. It’s natural to perceive those as naughty children behaviour and blame yourself for bad parenting, but child development experts say that’s just part of growing up.
Most children below the age of 4 years do not have enough impulse control to resist doing something they are told not to do. They are constantly doing things and observing the results of those actions, like pushing buttons on the remote control to turn the TV on and off or mushing food to see how it feels.
It’s actually a sign that they’re exploring and learning. Read on to better understand what children behaviour actually mean and how you can deal with them.
Children Behaviour and How to Deal With Them
1. Asking the same question over and over again
Young children may repeatedly ask “What’s that?” to the same item. If you answer, “Kitchen towel,” they will most likely ask over and over again.
What it means: Children are innately curious and inquisitive, that’s why they tend to repeat questions. It’s not that they weren’t listening the first time round; they are working on their speech and intellectual development.
Their brains are processing new knowledge while working on other areas of development, so it makes sense to need a little extra time to let everything sink in.
What to do: Try to engage more with your child’s question instead, not less. If you elaborate your answer, “It’s a kitchen towel. It’s used to clean the countertop when I make a mess as I cook. Can you say kitchen towel?” it helps them understand better and retain their new knowledge.
2. Throwing tantrums
Children cry, scream, whine, kick or get aggressive as part of a tantrum. They are all equally common in boys and girls and can continue to happen up to early school-age children.
What it means: This is because young children haven’t learned appropriate words or ways to express and manage their feelings yet. Tantrums are usually how they show that they are upset, frustrated, tired, hungry, uncomfortable.
What to do: Some ideas that may help prevent tantrums from happening include: tuning in to your child’s feelings; reducing stress to avoid overstimulating children; identifying tantrum triggers; talking to your child about emotions.
If tantrums still happen, no matter what you do, here are some tips to handle tantrums when they happen: be calm in your approach; acknowledge your child’s feelings; provide comfort to the child if needed; distract your child with a different activity; if the tantrum is happening to get attention from you, it’s best to ignore it and wait it out.
What’s the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown? Check it out here.
3. Acting defiant and doesn’t want to listen to you
In the morning, when you are rushing to get everybody ready and out of the house so that both you and your child can be on time for school and work, but they have different plans. They do not want to change into their uniforms, they want to continue being in bed and they throw their breakfast onto the floor. Whatever you say, it’s just a “No!”
What it means: Children are beginning to realise that they do have some control over their environment, and it’s part of the journey to becoming more independent.
What to do: Be clear about the rules and what kind of behaviour you expect out of your child. Look for triggers and avoid situations in which your child may be more likely to exhibit defiance. For example, if your child tends to be cranky when s/he is too busy, try not to arrange too many extracurricular activities for him/her.
It is normal for children to be defiant sometimes. But if the child is defiant almost all the time, with persistent patterns of anger and vindictiveness, he or she may have an oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). Find out more about it in this article and seek professional consultation as soon as possible.
This article has been republished with permission from Kiddy123.
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Read more: 8 Ways To Guide Your Child Into Responsible Behaviour
Read more: Using Psychology to Shape Behaviour: Punish, Reward or Remove?
Read more: Can You Tell the Difference Between a Tantrum and a Meltdown? | Ask an Expert