Behavior As Communication
Updated: Apr 8, 2022
What is your child really saying to you?
What is your child trying to tell you through their behavior? What if you don’t like a certain behavior? If you are like many people, the tendency is to try to make that behavior go away. Although that makes sense, it’s quite possible that you would be missing a deeper message, leaving the true need of your child unmet.
Essentially, negative behaviors are often a result of unmet needs. Meet the need and the behavior will decrease. So, how do you do that?
When we start to look at behavior through this lens, we begin to widen our perspective and get to the root of the problem. This requires us as parents to observe more and act less. What is really happening when your child is “acting out”? Most often, they are feeling a lack of connection, safety/trust or clear boundaries. Once we start seeing these behaviors as a way of communicating, it gets easier to stay in connection with your child during difficult times.
What if we could really learn to observe more and act less? We would be less prone to reacting and more prone to meeting their needs. Often, negative behaviors stem from some sort of disconnect. If we can problem solve and create an intervention that preserves connection or reconnects us with our child, we are more likely to see a decrease in negative behavior. It is all about healthy connection.
Trust plays a large role when being in relationship with our children. Challenging behaviors can lead us to question ourselves as parents. When this sense of trust gets disrupted, we tend to operate from a place of frustration or fear. It is important to trust ourselves, our children and our instincts. When we operate from a place of trust, it empowers both the parent and child. As we grow to trust our children’s instincts, we, in turn, begin to trust our own powerful parenting instincts.
Sometimes children may challenge us because they are simply confused. They might not fully understand what we are expecting of them or the reason behind it may not make sense. Our words, body language and true intention may not be aligned. It helps to take a step back and notice what message OUR behavior is communicating. Are we being clear?
In order to help children regulate, we ourselves must be regulated. This takes practice, patience and understanding. Take small steps towards awareness and be compassionate towards yourself as you learn to observe your child more in order to discover how to meet their deepest need for connection. Remember, that as parents, we are all experiencing these challenges. Try not to compare yourself to others and resist the tendency to feel like you are not "doing this right". Let's support each other so that our children can also reach their truest potential.