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Behavioral Communication of Children


Some Questions To Ask

Are there mental, emotional, and biological disorders in children? Of course. Can medications help? Of course. But non-biologically based behavior "problems" of children must be viewed first and foremost as what they are, behaviors.

Behaviors, especially of children, are modified, changed, and developed through their environment and the behaviors of the people in it. This is the foundation of all developmental psychology, science, and educational research to date. If a child is having "behavior problems" then often times the easiest (and contrarily hardest) thing to do is take an honest look at yourself and the world that child is living in and not only ask, "What needs to be changed"? but do so, especially when you aren't even sure of what questions to ask. Are you scared, insecure, self doubting about your parenting abilities and life choices? Relax, there is no "it" to get "right", it's a learning process and the best teacher is your child. Children teach us how to parent them through their behaviors.

As hit television shows such as "Super Nanny" clearly show, when a parent's behavior towards a child changes so does that child's behavior. Children need structure and consistency to feel secure and safe. They need their emotions, bodies, and minds, honored and acknowledged with attention. Children push, test, and act out to establish and test the boundries of emotional safety and security that are around them. That's what kids are supposed to do. Their greatest weapon, greatest gift, and greatest tool is their behavior.

Is your life hectic, frenetic, out of control, or a constant movement from one managed drama to another? So is your child's. Is your life a periodic battle between you and your partner's goals, views and emotions? So is your child's. Is your schedule constantly changing and fluxing because of work and personal demands? So is your child's. Are you unhappy, exhausted, tender and vulnerable deep inside yourself? Your child's behavior reflects that back to you. Do you actually give yourself time, care, and love? Do you actually believe in yourself and honor your own needs, wants, and desires as an individual and person? Do you even like your job? Is it an escape, a burden, a drama? Do you thrive on it being that way? Your child is learning to love themselves not from what you say, but what they see you do. Does your life, meaning, and self image revolve around your child's? Too much, not enough?

What nature is the structure you've built and space you hold for your child? Have you set boundaries, rules and limits for them? Have you helped them set goals that they find meaningful and achievements they desire, or you do? Do you honor those yourself? Do you consistently and consciously set consequences for inappropriate actions, and enforce them, even when you're tired, in a hurry, feeling scattered? Are your "consequences" just words or are they actions? What words? What actions? Are they meaningful to the child or to you? Are your words hallow, or actions instilling fear of punishment rather than teaching better choices? Do you balance those with regular praise, rewards, encouragement, recognition, and celebration of their daily achievements and positive choices made? Are you actually happy and feeling pride and joy when you give praise, or is it just the "correct response"? How often are you actually with them and doing so? Who else are they with? What and how are those people doing and handling such things? Are they helping, supporting, or undermining these things? What don't you know about parenting? Is what you do know working? How is it working for both you and your child?

Is your child a creative and loving being of light? Of course! Do they need you to stand up to them, tell them when they're doing something wrong, being manipulative, mean, spoiled or sassy? That's a big Yes! Is it acceptable for your child to talk back to you, countermand your authority, break the rules, throw tantrums at the drop of a hat, disrespect you, or manipulate your emotions to get their own way? Absoloutly not. Your child needs you to be their parent, someone who nurishes them on many levels, sets boundries and rules for them, and helps them understand that having their own way isn't always the best thing for them (or for you). Parenting should be a partnership with children but, when push comes to shove, your child needs you to be the meaningful and respected authority figure in their life. How else are they going to learn to respect themselves and others? If your child is in charge and the boss off your life, you are not holding up your end of the partnership. How can you learn to become what they need?

These are just some of the questions any caregiver needs to ask when there are behavioral problems with their child. Further, the answers need to come from the gut, not the head. Certainly before medication is chosen as a "cure" for behaviors. I don't have all the answers, but I do know there are questions that need to be asked.

 

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