Liar, thief, bully, smart mouth, lazy, bratty, entitled, rebellious...labels parents never want to hear attached to their children, yet chances are, it’s the parents themselves who've created them.
These “labels” are more accurately known as “behaviors”, and human behaviors stem from emotions. In other words, “The way we FEEL determines how we ACT”.
Since children are human...it stands to reason that their actions and behaviors stem from their emotions and how they feel as well.
If your child is acting out in a way that is undesirable or negative, chances are, they are feeling bad, scared, angry or frustrated about something (or many things) in their life...since they don’t have the same options as adults in similar situations, they act out or lash out to get their feelings out.
For example: If you are a parent, you probably have another adult person in your life. If that person is disrespectful, hurtful, angry or even physically violent toward you...you have options. You can tell them off, you can fight with them, you can have an adult conversation with them, you can choose to not be in relationship with them and/or you can leave. Our children have NONE of those options...
Now, can you imagine the anger and frustration you would feel if the person you lived with had total control over you? What you ate, when you slept, who you were friends with, what you wore, how you were allowed to talk and what you were allowed to do...ALL THE TIME!!! And if you dared to disagree or argue or not comply, you would be punished or disciplined...Can you imagine if that person were allowed to yell at you, insult you, embarrass you or even hit you when you did something they felt was wrong or inappropriate?
How would you react to that person? What would your relationship look like with him or her? Would you trust them? Would you lie? Would you hide mistakes? Would you refuse to speak to them or choose to speak to them with rudeness? Would you sneak the things you wanted? Would you fight back...or fight with others? Would you shut down? Would you run away?
These are all normal reactions that as adults we can see ourselves doing...but in children, we label those reactions as “issues” and we look to treat, medicate or discipline them.
I see this behavior as treating the symptom instead of the disease. If the cause of the pain in our leg is diabetes...do we take asprin for the pain, or do we treat the diabetes?
I’m not suggesting for a moment that children be allowed to roam free and have no guidance or accountability...but I am suggesting that when we engage in correcting our children, we should also be thinking about how we would react as an adult if we were being handled in the same way. If emotions truly are the basis of our behaviors...think about it; what emotions are you building in your child and what behaviors are you causing?
Seek first to understand...then be the model for what you want to create.