There is always a fine line that separates two closely related things.
There is a fine line between the sea and the sky.
Between indulgence and over-indulgence.
Between sadness and anger.
Similarly, there is a fine line in your kid’s behaviour too. The line that maintains the difference between age-appropriateness and acting out.
Wondering which side of the fence your kid leans on?
Chances are what you refer to as instances of your child ‘acting out’ might just actually turn out to be the most age-appropriate behaviour. Even if it is not particularly right or easy to deal with.
The thing about children’s behaviour is that pretty often any negative display is dismissed as acting out when it actually could be an age-appropriate response manifested in an unpleasant manner. It is important to recognise the difference and then come up with effective ways in which the said behaviour can be curbed.
Here are some ways that can help you control inappropriate children’s behaviour.
- When your child does not listen to you
- When your child acts wildly
- When your child gets restless
- When your child talks back
- When your child throws a tantrum
- When your child acts aggressively
Often it may seem when your child is not listening to what you are saying, they are intentionally ignoring you or being disrespectful. However, there is a good chance that they might simply be too engrossed in what they are doing to notice that you are talking to them.
This commonly happens when children are playing a game or watching TV. The activity in itself is so engaging that they might not pay attention to anything else, without any malintent.
In such a situation, it is important for you to curb your judgement and hold off on scolding your child. Instead you can draw their attention by directly talking to them in an empathetic manner. By stating that you understand that they might be too engrossed, they listen to you and direct their energies towards the task that needs their attention.
Giving your kids a choice is a quicker way to get them to do the things you want them to do.
Kids have a lot of pent-up energy in them, and do not always understand how to control it or to channel it in the best way possible. So there are high chances that sometimes, you might find them acting rowdy.
Instead of scolding them, give them space to channel this energy in a better way. For example, you can take them out to the garden (or the local park) and just let them run young, wild and free. As long as your kids get plenty of physical activity, you will not find them acting rowdy within your house.
Say you are out for a family dinner. Everything goes well for the first forty-five minutes or so, but after your kids are done eating, all hell breaks loose. Your kids start getting restless, moving around the table, wanting to go home, complaining, nudging, fidgeting. All of a sudden your beautiful family dinner turns into a task.
When kids start throwing tantrums like these, it can definitely get on your nerves. You can manage this better though by carrying along things that will keep your child engaged and prevent them from getting restless as you enjoy your meal. This could be anything, from colouring books to building blocks. Anything that keeps them busy and prevents them from getting antsy.
Kids get influenced very easily. That is a fact. Your child may not have any intention to call you names, but they might still do that simply because they heard someone at school use a new term and found it cool or funny.
Most often when kids talk back or be sassy, it can just be construed as a child acting out for attention. But that is not the case. Instead of launching into a tirade of how to behave, you must address your child’s cause of displeasure first. Ask them what upset them and then explain to them that hurtful language is not used in your family. Teach them how they can express their anger better.
Throwing tantrums might come across as dramatic but your child is anything but. Neither is it an instance of your child acting out for attention. The thing is kids are too young to deal with complex and intense emotions in an effective manner as adults do. When they cannot manage their frustrations or express how they feel, they throw a tantrum.
The best way to manage this is to offer support to your child. Skip the urge to react and just be there for your kid. Provide them with a safe space to have a meltdown, even if that entails complete privacy. Let them cry as that can help heal some of the anger they feel. And then give them a comforting hug when they are ready.
Just remember to cave into any demands they make at this point as they may use tantrum fits to get their way.
Aggression might not seem like an age-appropriate behaviour for your child, but more often than not it proves to be.
Watching your kid physically hurt someone can be a very painful sight but you must listen to your inner voice and trust that your kid is not inherently aggressive. As kids grow, they explore their world physically and do not always know which of those interactions count as aggressive.
However, kids generally outgrow their physically aggressive phase by the time they enter kindergarten. Till then, you can help manage their aggression by setting the tone for gentle behaviour with the help of their dolls and other interactive toys. This will help them understand the correct way to treat people.
As mentioned before, most of the time behaviour that is interpreted as acting out can actually be age-appropriate behaviour for kids. It is important to be mindful of this and help your child navigate their emotions accordingly. At EuroKids, we try to instil the values of good behaviour, patience and kindness in your kids, thus ensuring their holistic development. Find out more about how we do this at your nearest EuroKids centre.