The hidden messages behind your child’s behaviors

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Your significant other comes home and he or she is cranky. How do you know they are cranky? Tone of voice, short words, body language, “things you have seen before”. And sometimes, you simply just cannot understand him or her, or even yourself for that matter. As adults, we make sense of each other’s behaviors because we are thinking in adult vocabulary and language. And, we have learned to identify traits and understand them, predict them and know how to handle them. What if I introduce a being in your house whom you cannot predict, cannot understand, and cannot control? How frustrating would that be? Introducing your…children!

            For every stage of life there are certain ways the kids express themselves. And remember that as they discover their language and expressive abilities, they are also discovering themselves and who they are and what they are all about. As we teach them certain things, rules and expectations, they will be incorporating those into their own worlds. And then try to cope and understand them! So, this list is by all means non exhaustive, but serves as a small guideline if you will or as possible clues. Each child is different but certain behaviors are universal. Tantrums, not eating, slamming doors, well, you get the idea…The first place to start with in understanding what your child’s behavior means is to understand your child. As you analyze his or her behavior, look at when and where and why it is happening, then pause and search within you because that is most likely where he or she learned to react. You will probably have a better understanding that way.

  1. All experts state that parents need to be familiar with the different developmental stages of the children. Children have stages they must go through, and parents have to be able to know what is expected, what is wrong, and what is missing. Certain behaviors should be alarming if present, while others are alarming if they are missing. There are multiple sites where one can familiarize with normal stage behaviors. Just make sure it is a respectable site. Once you identify these behaviors, you know what to look for.
  2. A child’s behavior tells you much about their temperament. Easy going and adaptable children are laughing and smiling and join into the conversation and activities immediately. Cautious children will take their time to adapt and adjust to a new environment or situation so they will remain by themselves or more attached and clingy. Insecure or intense children may throw a fit and scream because of their inability to adapt and get comfortable in a new setting.

Examples of behaviors:

  • Fussing and crying and inconsolable: Something is bothering your child. You have to figure out what it is and not get frustrated. You child is not as eloquent as you and even us as adults have a hard time expressing ourselves, so imagine the difficulties for a child. Your child does not want to cry and as long as he or she is it means something needs to be done, not ignoring the child until he or she stops. Of course, sometimes we know what the source is (like taking away a toy or not giving them what they want), and in that cases you will know how to respond. But if you do not know the reason, DO NOT STOP TILL YOU DO.
  • Clinging and not wanting to leave you alone: We call this behavior “needy”. And that is correct. The child needs something, and she or he are usually craving for attention, love, safety (they may feel threatened), affection, comfort or to be consoled. Again, look for the reasons behind the “neediness”, do not dismiss it.
  • Acting out: If your children are getting in trouble at school or at home, or their grades are suffering, or you see them stray from their usual selves, then stop and find out why? This is a way your child is trying to tell you something is wrong. Listen to it. Any change in behavior that is “strange” and “not usual” prompts a thorough investigation by you and sometimes by their teachers. It could be they are being bullied, they are scared, they are upset with something at home, one of the parents is traveling and so on and so forth.
  • As they grow older, there is anger and frustration with yelling and screaming and door slamming and expressing or saying hurtful words. Take a step back and look at your child. Is your child usually a “good kid”? And if so, why are they acting this way? The best way to know is to let him or her cool down and then talk to them. Children, especially teenagers, are a ball of hormonal emotions. They do not have the ability nor the experience of controlling their emotions; they are mostly a prisoner of their emotions. Let those emotions pass and then you can talk to their “brain” and communicate with them rationally. If you go down the emotional road with them you will lose because intense emotions will not respond to reasoning, only more intense emotions.

These are just a few examples of children’s behaviors. They fall into a pattern. Identify your child’s pattern, you know what they mean. Good luck!!!