06 Jun Why Do Kids Act That Way?
In a general sense, the answer is not all that mysterious. Research has shown that a huge amount of communication is non-verbal. This is probably more true for children since their verbal communication skills are quite immature, and so is their self-awareness. Children are communicating most of their feelings with their behavior.
Unfortunately, the fact that children communicate feelings with their behavior can make figuring out what they are saying difficult. The behavior that one child uses to communicate a certain feeling is not necessarily going to be the behavior that another child uses to communicate the same thing, and here’s why.
Children are growing up in relationship with other people. They have parents and caregivers with unique personalities who have particular issues of their own. Those personalities and issues affect the way they provide for certain needs a child has, such as merging, mirroring, twinning and idealization. Very often, the feelings that children are communicating with mystery behaviors are ones that they have been taught, overtly or by accident, to “not have,” by their parents and caregivers.
When children don’t have language skills to express the feelings they are having, or they believe that they are not allowed to express the feelings they are having verbally, they will communicate them through behavior.
One of the ways you can try to figure out what your child is trying to communicate to you is to recognize the way the particular mystery behavior is making you feel. When you figure that out, you can begin to understand what your child is trying to communicate. Do you feel confused, angry, controlled? Let yourself feel your reaction to the behavior. Once you recognize the feeling that is being “pulled” out of you by the behavior, then you will understand the feeling your child is probably trying to communicate. Once you recognize the feeling, you can then start to pinpoint WHY your child might be feeling that way. (This is actually the hard part because it means you might have to allow your child to have feelings you don’t think they should have, about things you don’t think they should have them about.)
Once you figure out why your child might be feeling the way he is feeling, then you can have a developmentally appropriate verbal conversation about the experience. This connects you deeply with your child because he feels understood and validated. It might mean that you are struggling with his hatred or disappointment in you, but it will most often mean that the mystery behavior disappears and other, more socially acceptable or functional behavior replaces it.
Now you know why kids act that way. Think you could use some help deciphering mystery behavior or the feelings behind it? Call me. We’ll talk.