Ever had one of those days when you feel totally overwhelmed by your child’s behaviour? You feel like you’ve given all you can, encouraged and disciplined but they still behave badly. A tantrum on the way to playschool so getting out the door and arriving by 9am is near on impossible. A meltdown at bedtime so the 7pm deadline goes out the window… making their behaviour the next morning even worse! What’s behind it all? Is it us, are we missing something? Are we being too strict or too soft? So often we second guess ourselves and our actions, but what if they are really just trying to tell us something?
A friend of mine said something months back that has stuck with me ever since:
When they behave badly, it’s just another language they’re speaking!
Sometimes their bad behaviour is just that, bad behaviour that needs disciplining to train them in the way to go, but sometimes it’s much more, it’s their little way of telling us they’re not coping.
There have been times since I gave birth to our daughter that our son has been acting very out of character. The tantrums have been off the charts and the meltdowns that followed have been intense. There has been shouting, throwing and kicking to name just a few. But this isn’t normal for him and although we need a huge amount of wisdom in knowing how to deal with it, we also need to see what’s behind it.
When he shouts and kicks is he really shouting “mummy I need some attention because my little sister seems to be getting all of it at the moment“.
When he outright refuses to try and do a wee on the toilet even though he is still having accidents, is he really saying “please trust me, I can do this and need you to believe in me“.
And when he constantly gets down from the breakfast table where Daddy is desperately trying to get him to sit and have breakfast so we can make it to playschool on time, is he really saying “I just want to see Mummy whilst she feeds Summer upstairs because I miss her“.
I’m not saying we let all these things go and ignore the bad behaviour, but I am saying that we firstly try and prayerfully understand what’s behind the behaviour. What things are they trying to communicate to us that perhaps they can’t yet put into words.
I know for me when I feel like screaming because I just stubbed my toe on the door, or when I feel like shouting because I just can’t find any clothes to wear in my wardrobe full of clothes… it’s never really about the clothes or the painful toe. It’s usually about a whole load of little pressures throughout the day or week that I haven’t yet let go of. It’s just another language. My way of saying “it’s too much“.
Their behaviour is often another language and our job as parents is to try and learn what they are actually saying. Before charging in and disciplining we need to actually scramble through the layers of bad behaviour to see what’s underneath. What’s going on in their little hearts and minds that we can resolve first. Because if we can deal with the root issues the bad behaviour will end.
We love first. We still discipline because we love but love first. And this means understanding them and what’s going on inside before just fixing their behaviour.