I’ve always been fascinated by how quickly my child’s behaviour can change. One minute you have the sweetest most adorable little being and just like that, moody, disobedient, argumentative and even rude. Could it be due to lack of enough sleep, eating the wrong foods or perhaps watching tv? I’ve taken away privileges, and nothing seems to work. I wanted my sweet child back and not this imposter child. Sometimes, when you have a difficult child, the last thing you want to do is be around him or her. You just want to get away. But what your child needs in that moment is actually the opposite. It could take time and a lot of consistency, but if you’re struggling with a difficult child try to consider giving the following:
1. Your Presence
It’s easy to lose track of time when I’m with my daughter. I’ll sit on her bed as she talks about school or friends, and we’ll laugh about funny stuff we both can relate to. When my son barges in all moody, it is a different ball game all together. I am lucky if I get a word out of him. In these moments, I’m reminded that no matter how old my children get, they both benefit from time spent with their mom. When I later went to his room to sit and talk to him, he broke into a smile and held his arms out for a hug, no longer being an annoying brother or difficult child.
But I most definitely notice a difference in behaviour when I spend time with my son. It could be cuddling, reading, playing trucks, or just hanging out together in the kitchen baking something. Your child craves time with you, and he could be letting you know with his difficult behaviour that he’s not getting enough attention from you,
2. Your Touch
Some children are difficult in the morning and may respond well to touch. Try gently touching them on their foreheads. When my daughter gets angry and doesn’t want to do what I tell her, I wait a few minutes and then offer her a hug. After I’ve held her for a bit, she’s ready to do what I say.
Nurturing physical touch promotes the development of a child’s ability to regulate her emotions and handle stress. Think about it. As a baby, your child needed to be held and rocked to calm down. Even though your child may now be 4, 8, or even 12, she may need your touch to bring her back to calm. A study from the National Library of Medicine suggests that if we cuddle, hold, or give other positive touches to a difficult child to help her regain emotional control, she’s going to learn self-regulation skills. And being able to stay in control is linked to getting along well with others. In other words, moms who had a positive attitude toward touch had kids with empathy, a moral compass, and low rates of misbehaviour.
3. Your Empathy
Re-assure your child that it is ok to feel sad and that boys are allowed to cry and show emotion. Empathising allows a child to feel safer in life, knowing he can feel off balance but be all right too.
A difficult child may shut down or explode, but our job isn’t to rescue him from all his emotions or prevent him from dealing with a difficult situation. We don’t need to fix the situation by running back to the park to search for the missing LEGO or retrace impossible steps at all the stores you visited that day. Rather, by staying attuned to your child’s feelings but not taking them on yourself, your child’s able to feel seen and be heard. Giving him empathy can bring him back to calm and he can learn from that experience how to better manage big emotions in the future.
You may have a difficult child at the doctor’s office, or when she refuses to pick up her room. What works best in your relationship? Your presence, your touch, or your empathy?
Consider getting your child his very own teepee and allow him to have some time out or just cuddle up together for a nap. Follow us on Instagram or find us on Jozikids and #support local small businesses.
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