Kids bring us joy. Oh, well, not always. Sometimes there are frustrations too, especially when the kids refuse to cooperate with us. They would cry non-stop, shout at the top of their voice, mess up everything around them … Most parents tend to resort to disciplining, threatening, 'cheating', or diverting the kids' attention stop their defiance. But all these could only solve the issue temporarily.
What should a rational parent do? Perhaps the first step is to understand why the kid misbehaves. There are five main reasons:
"What Will Happen If I Do This?"
Kids are curious in nature. They learn by trying things out – without regards of whether they should 'or' should not 'try it, or whatever they will be harmed. "Can I eat this piece of paper?", "What happens if I pour this bottle of lotion here?", "Fire looks interesting" ….. All these are all so familiar.
Every time when your kid does something 'unusual', be ready to give them some feedback. Be patient in guiding her, because this is a learning opportunity for her. It's through observing your response that she better understand the world. Do not disallow her to explore, as long as it does not harm her.
"Give Me Your Attention, Mummy. Attention!"
Parents are kids' center of universe – at least at their very young age. The kids will demand their parents to focus on them. They may be sending a message to the parents through misbehaving – that the parents are not paying enough attention to them.
Giving attention to your kid is one of the best ways to show that you care about him. If your kid misbehaves because he's trying to get your attention, give it to him! However, remember to try to strike a balance: if you deprive him of attention too often, his emotion will accumulate, and this ends up to be a greater rebellious action; but if you attend to him too eagerly, he might repeat the trick and make you busy every time.
"I Am Upset !!!"
Crying and throwing tantrums can be the kids' way of expressing their discomfort. They may be hungry, unhappy about something, tired, stressed or feeling physically unwell. The kids have not learned enough to clearly show the adults what's upsetting them, so they can only cry or shout to get the adults' attention.
If your kid is not cooperating because something's upsetting her, do not divert her attention away. Try to calm her down (eg by giving her a hug or stroking her back), find out what's causing her discomfort, and help her to deal with it. If possible, take this chance to teach her to deal with the discomfort.
"If I Do This, What Will Daddy Do?"
Kids will always test their parents' limit. They are usually living within the boundaries the parents set for them, but at times, they will try to push and see how far the boundaries are. They would do something 'naughty', check how the parents respond, and systematically react to the response.
As a parent, you must have clear of what are acceptable for you. Clearly let your kid see the limits you set. Be stern when you need to, and do not compromise, especially on issues that will harm your kid or affect him permanently.
"This Is What I Learned From ___!"
Children see, children do. The kids' misbehaviors may reflect the good and bad habits that they picked up from people around them. Their parents are of course their closest role models, but may not be their only role models. How their grandsparents, neighbors, nursery teachers, little friends and others act and speak can affect them too.
It takes time to correct a kid when he has picked up defiant conduct from others. First and foremost, be sure that you become his role model by showing him the right behavior. Gently remind him that you're not happy with the behavior he shows. Over time and with repeated reminder, you can always help him rid it.