Family Life




Why Kids Act Out And How You Should Respond

Why Kids Act Out

Why Kids Act Out And How You Should Respond

Children act out and behave badly all the time. Dealing with this type of behavior is a part of life for all families, large or small. But as a parent, you cannot effectively deal with a child’s behavior issues unless you can determine what their cause is. Some conflicts have simple reasons and resolutions—a child who hits their sibling after they’ve had a toy taken from them is clearly responding directly to their siblings interference.

Resolving the situation should be easy because you can address both the cause of the behavior and the behavior itself. A child who displays a pattern of misbehavior, such as whiney attention-seeking or a sudden tendency to talk back, may be more difficult to deal with in the long run. The solution is to look for a root cause. Once you have found it and addressed it, you and your child can move on to the next challenge.

The Obvious Solutions

There are several root causes for common types of misbehaviors. These are as follows:

• The Desire for Attention—Children seek attention and when they don’t get it, they learn to seek negative attention instead.

• The Desire for Power—Children are some of the most powerless members of society. Their lives are completely out of control and sometimes they just want to feel like they have power over something.

• The Lack of Self Confidence—Children who lack self confidence don’t misbehave in order to be bad, but to reinforce their inability to accomplish required tasks.

There are many other reasons why your child might choose to act out, of course. There are almost as many reasons as there are individuals, but these three offer a baseline for you to compare your child to. In each case, the solution is clear once you have determined the exact problem. A child that seeks attention should be taught to that you will respond to positive and not negative behavior.

A child that wants power can be given some. Just offer them choices of their own instead of mandates from on high. An example might be giving your child a choice of shirts rather than telling them it is time to get dressed. A child who lacks self-confidence must be encouraged and bolstered into discovering their own merits.

Is it Your Behavior?

Your own behavior may be causing your child to act out. You should make an effort to spend a reasonable amount of quality time with your child each day. Do things that they like to do, talk about the subjects that they are interested in, and just take the time to listen to them. This kind of focused attention allows you to really get to know your child and the things that are going on in their lives.

Armed with this information and the deeper bond you and your child have been fostering, you will be much better equipped to solve any problems that arise. Most importantly, you will be providing your child with the love and attention that they need to grow and thrive.

How to Respond to Negative Behavior

Negative behavior often encourages an immediate negative response from parents. While this is understandable, it isn't always the best option. Sometimes, your child legitimately doesn't know any better. Rather than get upset at them for doing something they don't know is wrong, take the time to explain why their behavior isn't okay.

If your child does know better than to act as they are acting, respond with a consequence that matches the severity of the situation. For example, taking your child's access to television away for a month simply for chewing with their mouth open at the table is extreme. However, it is an appropriate punishment for starting a fight at school.

When choosing a punishment for your child, focus on a consequence that they will feel. You aren't doing this to be mean, but to help them understand that their actions have consequences. If they have a favorite toy, consider taking it away for a period of time. If they're planning to go over to a friend's house, take away that privilege and tell them they won't be going.

Punishing a child is never easy, especially when you have to take away something that they enjoy. But, if they're going to develop properly, they need to understand that there are consequences to every action- both positive and negative. The older they get, the greater these consequences become. For example, yelling at their boss could cost them their job. As their parent, it's your job to guide them to be a good person.

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