Have you ever feared that your child is growing up to be disobedient, no matter what you do to teach them otherwise? Don’t be too hard on yourself.
It’s easy for parents to classify certain behaviors in kids as being naughty or pasaway, but there are certain exceptions. According to Dr. Erin Leyba of Psychology Today, what parents see as bad behavior may just be “human and developmental.”
Here are some examples of pasaway behavior that can actually be good things.
1. Being impulsive
Any parent can relate to telling kids not to do a certain thing, only to have them do that same thing without hesitation. For instance, your kid is playing in the living room and they pick up a lint from the floor. Even if you warn them that it’s dirty, do they just put it in their mouths anyway? Based on research, this is no cause for worry because the region of the brain that regulates self-control has yet to be developed. In fact, it only fully matures, after a “long, slow process” during adolescence.
2. Being hyperactive
Kids’ inability to “sit still” isn’t simply because they are defiant or they have ADHD. Toddlers, specifically, are at a stage where they need to move around a lot; this is all part of their development. Dr. Leyba calls this their “fierce need for play.” They enjoy laughter and excitement. That’s why when they seem to be naughty, it often means they just want you to be silly and goofy with them.
3. Having a short attention span
Kids, especially in this digital age, are often overstimulated. Kids often experience mini-meltdowns due to a “cumulative stress reaction”, writes Kim Payne, author of Simplicity Parenting in response to too many activities and choices. To remedy this, Dr. Payne suggests making time for rest and quiet time as well as free play.
4. Lashing out
Though we adults have developed the skill of restraint and tempering our emotions, kids have yet to learn this. When overcome with “big feelings” they know no way than to express them—often, through yelling, sulking, or crying.
5. Mirroring their parent’s bad mood
When you’re sad, stressed, or angry, kids can tell. They pick up on your mood shifts and start to imitate these feelings, whether they intend to or not. In fact, this is also true for adults, as a recent study on “emotional contagion” claims. It only takes a few seconds for positive or negative emotions to be unknowingly passed on from person to person.
6. Being strong-willed
According to Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, toddlers and preschoolers alike have a need to assert independence and take action. Little acts of “rebellion” like sipping their soup when it’s still hot or messing up a newly made bed is all part of their development, of wanting to make plans and distinguish themselves.
7. Insisting on getting their way
When you give inconsistent instructions, it can be frustrating for kids. They need to feel secure, even within rules and routines. If, for instance, you agreed to let them play with the iPad for 30 minutes today, but told them they couldn’t play at all the next day, it could blindside them and lead to crying and tantrums. It’s fine to have different rules, just be sure to explain beforehand to reassure your kids of consistency.
READ: Do these 5 things to raise truly “good kids”, say psychologists
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