In some ways, kids deal with things just like we adults do. Like us, they can feel sad in the face of disappointment, conflict and rejection. Like so many of us, they also tend to overreact to these things, and even parental advice. What’s causing some parents some concern, however, is the fact that sometimes, kids overstate their problems, but are actually just being intentionally mischievous, and therefore misbehaving.
Tantrums and whining
Take the child who throws a fit whenever his or her mom denies a request. The “overreaction” would consist primarily of harassment of his or her mother in the form of whining or making statements that induce guilt and make the mother wonder if she is being too tough on her kid. There are also children who complain about homework and quit doing it for the night, but upon reassurance from a parent that the work is just doable and should therefore be finished, they throw a tantrum, which certainly annoys the parent no end.
Then again, the fact that the parents feel annoyance at the way they’re acting should give them a clue as to what their kids are actually doing. Parents should wonder if their child acts this way in school too, throwing a tantrum during situations similar to the ones mentioned above. If a little sleuthing confirms that the child doesn’t really behave that way at school, it means that behavior is reserved for home, and therefore for the parent. In other words, the kids are behaving purposely and are only seeking attention.
Purposeful behavior in children
For many parents, finally realizing that their children are exhibiting purposeful behavior can be a bit unsettling. Then again, it’s all just human nature. It was just a matter of time before your child learned to repeat behaviors that elicit a response and cast aside those that don’t. Nevertheless, you will still need to manage this behavior in your child, and manage it you can.
As purposeful behavior is all about getting a response, it would help that whatever your initial impulse to your child’s behavior is, steer clear of it. More often than not, you will only be servicing the behavior if you instinctively react to it, and that will only ensure that that behavior will be on repeat. Whatever the circumstances are, the default response of your child will be tantrums, whining or whatever it is he or she did to get a rise out of you.
It would also be smart to think about your instinctive response, and respond differently instead. Don’t give the attention if the tantrum is all about getting it. If the child is trying to draw you into an argument, then do everything else but argue. If you said no to a request and the child is moving heaven and earth with the whining so you’d change your mind, stand your ground and do not give in.
Learning how to understand purposeful behavior is beneficial on a number of levels. Kids, after all, aren’t the only ones capable of exhibiting purposeful behavior. Even the adults in your life, from your spouse to your colleagues at work, are perfectly capable of behaving on purpose to get what they want. So if you understand purposeful behavior from all people in your life, you are likely to be managing it with a little more confidence.