Are you going through that phase, where your kid is being too difficult to handle, refuses to listen and is creating havoc? Do you feel embarrassed when he gets unruly in others’ presence? Is he being labelled as ‘aggressive’ or ‘notorious’ in school?
Parents have several ways of disciplining kids. While some parents believe in using punishment to tame mischievous behaviour, some others have a calmer, gentler attitude to mellow them down. I believe, as parents, we have to take care that while controlling childhood naughtiness, the kids don’t start harbouring anger and bitterness either towards us or themselves.
The first step is to understand the cause for the naughty behavior. Before coming up with a set way of helping the child become discipline, we must, as parents try and understand what is provoking that kind of behaviour in the child.
1. Life Changes: Children, unlike adults, don’t have the emotional capability to handle big changes in life, like shifting the house or separating from friends, joining a new school or addition of a sibling. They strived on routine and whatever that upsets their routine, saddens them. An inability to articulate their emotions or fear of the unknown can come as offensive behaviour, like hurting others physically or handling objects aggressively or screaming very loudly.
Solution: Talk to your child, no matter how young he/ she is. Explain to them the need for the big changes in their lives and show them the nice things that they can now experience, after such changes. Equip them with words to express their feelings. Statements like “You must be missing our old home. I miss it too. But hey! We can put up your doll house in this new place” can reassure them. Since you have expressed their feelings in words, they now understand what can be done to resolve their restlessness or discomfort because of the changes.
2. Boredom: This is a common one. Children are so full of energy and ideas that monotony and lack of fresh challenges can set off boredom every now and then.
Solution: Think of innovative ways to channelize your child’s energy. Often, a whole-hearted involvement in your child’s play can put them back on track again. Indulging in new/ different activities like stepping out for some outdoor play is something that works everytime. Your child can also feel bored if the activity he is doing is either too easy or too difficult for him. Challenge them with the right complexity to suit their age and intellect.
3. Feeling of Being Neglected: When children don’t get as much attention as they seek, their basic emotional needs are not met and they tend to show their discontent through behaviour that they themselves don’t value. The feeling of being ignored is very hard for them to accept and they start behaving aggressively purely to get some attention.
Solution: Shower your child with ample love and care. Nothing they do is worth avoiding or ignoring. Always recognize their presence, appreciate their efforts, praise their tiny achievements and let them know how important they are in your lives. Just this honest admittance will work wonders in correcting their behaviour.
4. Over Excitement: Too many people, too much activity, too much noise and hullabaloo can incite a kid and make him/her forget all about behaving in a certain way. Special occasions like birthdays and family get-togethers are typical examples where children come across a big crowd and see a lot of movement and enthusiasm all around them. This can overstimulate them and cause them to become noisy and difficult to control.
Solution: Every time you want to attend a special occasion with your child, where there will be commotion – make sure your child has eaten and slept enough. Either of these things not being met can only add to the uncontrollable behaviour. Also, you could gather children in the same age group together and channelize their energy levels, so they remain occupied with an activity.
5. Bullying by Other Kids: When children are bullied by somebody, they begin feeling helpless because they are unable to handle such a situation. They may either become reserved and surly, which will result in aggressive and destructive behaviour.
Solution: Talk to your child and understand if anyone at school or anywhere else is being verbally or physically abusive towards him. If so, assure him that you are with him and you can together tackle this, and most importantly, do so. Step into the picture and deal with bully. This will assure your child that he is not alone.
6. Feeling of Being Incompetent: Often when a child struggles with a subject at school, or feels he is not able to cope with something he notices other kids doing easily, he may act out because of the feelings of inadequacy or ineptitude. The child may then become defiant and rebellious with his school work.
Solution: Express empathy and let your child know that you are always together in fighting all challenges that come his way. Make it known to him that being academically competent alone is not a determining factor of one’s worth. Recognise the various traits in him and make him feel good about himself. When a child feels content and gratified, his behaviour will automatically reflect his thoughts!