Tame your child’s impulsive behaviour
What you need to know:
- All cases of bad behaviour can be tamed and managed right away in childhood. There is a saying that you can bend a tree when it is still young. You don’t have to wait to intervene when the child is grown up. You may break the hard stick into pieces and lose out completely
A video clip of a 12-year-old child who destroyed his mother’s property at home because she confiscated his phone, has been circulating on social media.
Whatever the age of the child, the impulsive behaviour in the video clip is very outrageous and it calls for attention. No one has a clear reason as to why this child acted like that. But what is known is that parenting in the 21st century is very challenging.
Children in this digital era are different from those in the 20th century. Even parenting itself is no longer the same. I grew up knowing that I couldn’t just ask questions anyhow or challenge my parents.
There were a lot of dos and don’ts, which may no longer apply today. A child can challenge a parent without fear or shame these days, and it sounds normal. There is a lot of exposure in the media and to what parents do with their children. Children are more knowledgeable about many things compared to a decade ago.
Bad behaviour in a child stems from emotional, biological, or environmental issues in a child’s life. All children are not the same, but they exhibit bad behaviour from time to time due to the stresses of daily life. Some children exhibit aggression, defiance, lying, temper tantrums, disrespect, rudeness, entitlement, disruptive or oppositional behavior, insecurity, hyperactivity, withdrawal, and restlessness. Study your child over time and get to understand his/her problem.
Most of the character traits we see in our children are also acquired from their parents. They learn by imitation. Some parents support the bad behaviour of their children. Some mothers are like ‘that’s how he/she is’, while the father may say, don’t beat/discipline “my” children. I want them to have the best life! This is even true among the not-so-rich. Parents should mind their language.
Some children act outrageously simply because they need your attention, or they are stressed, angry, tired, hungry, anxious, depressed, or are undergoing certain untreated disorders that may need your attention.
Some behaviour, particularly among adolescents, may be a result of engaging in exploratory risk-taking behaviour during a stage of self-identity development.
They try to test family boundaries, social, and personal boundaries, and they show some signs of rebellion to see what happens. By the time they are in their 20s, most of them may outgrow that and change forever and be good at making informed decisions, while others can get worse and deteriorate.
All cases of bad behaviour can be tamed and managed right away in childhood. There is a saying that you can bend a tree when it is still young. You don’t have to wait to intervene when the child is grown up. You may break the hard stick into pieces and lose out completely.
Therefore, set clear rules and expectations as a parent. Let them be well known to everyone, along with their consequences. Be very consistent in implementation, no matter what and regardless of the age group. Flexibility is not bad as long as the child doesn’t become manipulative. Train children to become more aware of their anger cues and how to manage emotions.
Parenting needs a lot of patience and understanding, as well as a lot of wisdom. You may need to stay calm in certain circumstances and handle situations as they arise with a positive mind.
Be a friend to your child. Think about the right time to talk to your child. If everything is too much for you, remember that God gave you those children (Psalm 127:3). Commit them to Him daily, and He will always be on your side. You don’t need to embarrass a child struggling with some disorder. You add an injury to a wound.
Don’t suffer alone. Seek help from others. Couples shouldn’t neglect the responsibility of addressing bad behaviour. Do it jointly and speak the same language, have a similar stand. Don’t show sides or favouritism.
If your child begins to exhibit such behaviour, do not dismiss it or even encourage it.
Be ready to discipline your children no matter what. The Bible says that “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward, there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way (Hebrews 12:11). Parenting is not for the faint-hearted, but for those who are strong, calm, and persistent.
Child advocate, parenting coach, marriage counsellor