Having a misbehaving child is frustrating, but if our kids never misbehaved, we’d be pretty poor parents. It’s tempting to just make the behavior stop. But attitudes and acting out are clues to what’s going on with our child. Rather than simply making it go away, we need to stop, look and listen to what’s driving our kids’ behavior.
Rather than simply making it go away, we need to stop, look and listen to what’s driving our kids’ behavior.
A child’s bad behavior helps you not only become a better parent but also allows you to tailor your parenting for that child. Let’s look at six ways your child’s misbehavior makes you a better parent.
1. Bad behavior gives an opportunity to teach.
When my kids are bickering or talking back, I often stop and walk them through better responses. Critical kids can learn to speak kindness, argumentative kids can learn to obey pleasantly, and tattling kids can learn to handle disagreements before taking them to parents. Use misbehavior to teach the heart that’s driving it.
2. Bad behavior gives a window into our kids.
Bad behavior is communicating our child’s underlying need. When their behavior annoys, it’s usually a sign they need more — not less — attention. A bad attitude can signal deep disappointment, frustration or fear. Rebellion may mean we need to draw them closer and strengthen our bond when peers are undermining it. Stopping to study our child and ask questions can help us uncover deep needs that would otherwise be missed.
3. Bad behavior checks our pride.
We’ve all done it: been puffed-up parents because our kids had gold star behavior. Then they misbehave, and we’re both shocked and angry. A prideful parent is more worried about her reputation than shaping her child’s character. Our child’s misbehavior is not a reflection on us, and the sooner we root out our pride, the sooner we can authentically parent their heart.
4. Bad behavior checks our entitlement.
I’ll admit that after a long school day, driving kids to practice, making meals and picking up the house, I feel entitled to a little peace and quiet. That expectation can trigger anger when it’s disrupted. We need to set aside any entitlement to comfort and understand instead that raising kids requires ongoing, active parenting, often in the moments we feel most weary.
5. Bad behavior helps us reset unhealthy influences.
Sometimes it’s only when a child melts down that we realize they’ve not been getting enough sleep or they’ve been eating too much junk. Bad attitudes in my house cause me to take stock of the shows I’ve allowed and how much friend time my kids have had. Misbehavior is often a sign I need to make adjustments to help my children be their best.
6. Bad behavior helps me reevaluate mine.
Our children are mirrors. Their attitudes and words are often a direct reflection of my own. When my kids misbehave or when an attitude is becoming a pattern, I’ve learned to step back and take a long look at my own attitude. Am I hurrying the kids? Dispensing orders without listening well? Have I been complaining? What a heart check! I cannot shape my child’s heart without working on my own.
Tell us! Are you taking time to be a student of your child and look at what’s driving the misbehavior?