When we think about our child’s or teen’s behavior, we often see the superficial part that we may not always fully understand.
That is, we may see defiance or disrespect, but what is the underlying need behind the behavior? We may react with anger, yelling, doling out consequences, or taking away privileges. It’s easy to get lost in our emotions and the surface behavior, rather than the nonverbal message that our child or teen is trying to communicate to us.
Why Is My Child So Difficult?
written by Dr. Liz Matheis, posted on Psychology Today
As parents, many of us judge ourselves based on our children’s choices and see them as a part of our weaknesses or where we are lacking. We sit with “mommy guilt,” or guilt in general, rather than focusing on what our child may need.
We focus on trying to manage or control the behavior with consequences or trying to save face for the on-lookers, whether those are friends or family. As a parent, try to take a deep breath and reframe your child’s behavior, and ask yourself, “What is my child trying to tell me? What does he or she need?”
Find the Antecedent
When our child or teen engages in repetitive behavior, this is the time for us to shift our focus from, “Why is my child being difficult” to “My child is having a difficult time; what is happening and how can I be of support?”
That’s a huge difference in perspective. For example, if your child repeatedly jumps off of the couch, think about what type of need your child is trying to fulfill.
Our generation of parents may be quick to say that we need to punish our child and get her behavior “under control.” Their perception may be one of deliberate defiance, rather than trying to understand that our couch-jumping-child may be trying to create sensory regulation.