Google+ Authentic Parenting: 5 Types of Behavior that Should Ring an Alarm Bell

Thursday, April 12, 2012

5 Types of Behavior that Should Ring an Alarm Bell

Like most human beings, children are not very straightforward about their emotions. Especially when they are very small, they simply do not have the words to talk about their feelings, and even as they grow older, feelings can be so complex and subconscious that they cannot voice what is bothering them.


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  1. Secretive behavior: When your child starts hiding products of their mischief, or wounds, there is reason to be concerned. In either case, your child fears your reaction, either because they think you won’t believe them when they tell you what really happened (this often occurs in cases of abuse), or they think you’ll be angry or tell them ‘I told you so’. In any case, what your child needs now is understanding and lots of love. Even if your child has painted a postmodern version of the Sistine Chapel on your walls, and is now trying to hide up in fear of the consequences, what your child needs most now is a hug and a listening ear. It might be counterintuitive if they’ve gotten into all kinds of mischief, but what a child needs most, even if they’ve been erroneous, is love.
  2. Lying: A narrative lie here and there is not an issue, quite on the contrary. Making up stories about things that happened can be a way for your child to voice his inner fantasy world, to create a narrative and to play with language. However, if your child lies about wounds on their body, or ‘misbehavior’, there is reason to be concerned. In both cases, as with the point mentioned above, this can mean that they are scared of the consequences or fear your reaction. Again, the remedy here is lots and lots of love, being there for them, not judging and letting them know that you care, unconditionally.
  3. Aggression: Like lying, scanning the scope of one’s physical strength and the occasional aggressive tendency is often quite normal. Especially in preverbal children, biting and hitting is not something to be worried about, as it is often a means to show overwhelming emotion (which can - quite strangely - even be joy), in this case, it is a matter of handing your child the right way to express his or her emotions: “I see you are very happy that your friend came over to play, instead of biting her, you can give her a hug”, make sure to model the right behavior and not to get frustrated or scold your child. If the aggressive behavior persists and occurs frequently, you might consider if your child is struggling with deeper underlying emotions. Aggression can be a reaction to verbal or physical aggression by caregivers, it can also be a reaction to change or grief. Talk to your child if you think this might be the case. Sleeptalking can be very effective in this situation. Reading books and watching media about what lives in your child’s mind can be an effective way to establish communication.
  4. Seemingly endless, recurrent tantrums: Tantrums are another part of growing up. Frequency and scale of the tantrum depend highly on the demeanor of your child, and on the issues he or she is dealing with. If your child is throwing tantrums all the time (eg daily), and they last very long, it might be time to step in. First, make sure that the tantrums aren’t due to food issues, certain dyes and additives can create extreme behavior in small children, as can food intolerances (gluten or dairy). Secondly, figure out whether there’s a rhythm to your child’s tantrums, if they stop/decrease in frequency if your child gets some sleep during the day, or an extra snack between mealtimes. Tantrums can also occur if your child is indoors too much or lacks connection, make sure his ‘cup is full’: that you spend enough time connecting as a family. Don’t get overwhelmed during your child’s tantrum. It may seem violent and intolerable even, but all your child needs now is your presence.
  5. Change in Demeanor: A sudden change in your child’s behavior and character is definitely alarming. If your otherwise happy child suddenly becomes silent, or your outgoing son becomes timid, dig into what is happening in his life to find out what is going on. Your child can be reacting in this way to a change, or as a result of grief or it can be a reaction to abuse.


All of these behaviors will only be strengthened by harsh, punitive measures. When a child lashes out, all he is looking for is love and understanding. It may be hard if you don’t understand your child’s behavior, but looking into the underlying reasons may give you the compassion and empathy you need to remain calm and caring. If you are struggling with these types of behavior and don’t seem to be able to remain positive, seek out help in your community or online. Feel free to drop a line below if this is your case.


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12 comments:

  1. Excellent article, I'm going to share it on my Facebook page at The Momalog. Thank you

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    1. thank you for sharing! I'll seek you out on Facebook, so we can connect!

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    2. Thanks for a fantastic article. I'll be sharing also!

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  2. So what do I do if my child has all of these behaviors on a daily basis?
    His school simply handed me a list of discipline methods. if discipline worked, he wouldn't be this way. No one seems to have answers for me, meanwhile he just gets worse.

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    1. 'discipline' is not the answer here. Did his change inn behavior coincide with his schooling, or change of teacher?
      School can be a very stressfull environment for a child and not all children respond well to its structure and segregation.
      Would it be possible to deschool your child? Keep him at home at least for a while? Or maybe change schools. Try to find out what exactly is bothering him.
      You can always email me mamapoekie at yahoo dot com

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  3. I would love a tip or two for my 5 year old daughter. Ever since her younger sister has arrived (now 18 months) I've noticed a big shift in her personality. She went from being a confident,tough, outgoing little girl to throwing fits, seeming insecure, bursting into tears often and constantly needing my reassurance. I've made a big effort to spend more time with her, give her extra cuddles and time to talk but I don't feel like I'm doing enough, and I'm really not sure what direction to go now. The only other change has been the start of kindergarten.... which may be adding to her stress - they do expect a lot. I just want my happy, confident child back! Tips? Ideas? She is a middle child between her 8 year old brother and 18 month old sister.

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    1. Hi Anon,
      School can indeed be the issue, especially if it happens at the same time of the arrival of a sibling. Try to involve your daughter as much as possible with the baby. Maybe reduce school hours or consider keeping her home? It is possible that she feels pushed away and replaced with school arriving at the same time of the new sibling.
      feel free to email me mamapoekie at yahoo dot com

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  4. Good article. Please check spelling (ie whether; Sistine Chapel) the article appears less credible with these errors. It is a good article.

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    1. Thanks, I searched through my translator, but didn't find it in English!

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  5. This is ridiculous at parts and you dont even TRY to suggest that the childmay have underlying psychiatric issues such as adhd, asd, spd/sid etc etc etc

    Deschooling is NOT the answer- if a child is having issues adapting to an environment, then they need further immersed into it in order to normalise the behaviour/the reaction to other people!

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  6. How are these children going to cope when they grow up and their boss doesn't give them a hug and a kiss for lying, covering up their lies, acting out aggressively, having tantrums, etc?

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  7. Great article Laura. Seeking to identify the underlying feelings and unmet needs that drive behaviour is not only more humane, it's essential to help children at the emotional level. Thanks, will share :-) Genevieve

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