A few common statements that one may hear adults use when they are angry with children are:
- “What is wrong with you?”
- “That was bad.”
- “That was very rude!”
- “That was so stupid.”
- “Why are you being so mean to your sister or brother?”
…and the list goes on.
According to Linda Popov, author of The Virtues Guide, this is a form of shaming and it sends a strong disempowering message and robs children of moral choice. When children hear these statements often enough, they begin to believe them. Young children believe everything we say as the truth.
Children are often impulsive and misbehave, which is to be expected. When children misbehave, they present us with “teachable moments,” the opportunity to empower them to make the right choices as well as understand the consequences of their actions.
Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me (when I am in the right frame of mind to apply them).
- Pause, take a moment. Take a deep breath (before reacting). I’ve found that when I do that, I am able to think more clearly. It allows the moment of anger to pass.
- Take the time to investigate. Gather the facts before jumping to conclusion. Most of the time, children have a perfectly logical reason (at least to them) for their behavior, and their intention is rarely to cause harm.
- Listen with empathy. Truly listen and be willing to put yourself in the child’s shoes in order to see things from his vantage point.
- Diagnose before prescribing, and let the child in on figuring out the solution.
- Recognize “teachable moments.” In other words, influence the situation instead of letting the situation influence you and how you react.
- Prevention is better than cure. Sometimes there are warning signs of an impending storm. Don’t let those signs go by, but address them before the situation escalates. This can save everyone a lot of trouble. In my home, often the problem is as simple a child needing to be fed.
How do you react when your children misbehave? Please share some of the strategies that have worked for you.
Recommended book: The Virtues Guide by Linda Popov. Follow me on Pinterest for more parenting books.