When a child beats other children, teases his or her colleagues, does not want to learn – we are worried. When the grimace doesn’t want to get up at school in the morning, doesn’t want to wear underpants, doesn’t want to wash her teeth or clean her room, doesn’t want to lie or talk to her – we’re also worried and annoyed. Such behaviours, which we do not accept, we want to “repair”, change, stop. We often try to act quickly and quickly to see the results, which makes us focus on the behaviour itself and not get to the root causes of it.
Children’s difficult behaviour always has its reasons, its needs. When looking for solutions to educational problems – large and small – one cannot focus only on behaviour and its “repair”, but one has to look deeper, look for what is behind behaviour and understand it. If we really want to solve the problem – effectively and in the long term – should we start with the LAST question? Or actually from three “why”.
The first “why” is to understand the child
Why does your child behave like this? What does this behaviour say about him? What are the feelings behind the child? What needs does it meet? First, let’s try to understand the child, then it will be possible to choose the right solution.
Food stewing is not likely to be due to the fact that the child does not know the rules of healthy eating, so the explanation is that we do not have much to eat. It may be a symptom of illness, stress, intolerance of some foods, or high sensitivity to the taste or consistency of dishes. For example, children with Asperger syndrome often have a very selective appetite, they do not tolerate combining ingredients – e.g. bread and sausage separately, but as a sandwich they will not eat meat anymore, but without sauce, broccoli – yes, but it must be cooked to perfect hardness. This is due to their excessive sensual sensitivity. Difficulties with getting up this morning are not necessarily laziness and lack of responsibility. The cause may be too low a level of vitamin D, problems at school, or conflict with peers, which makes the child afraid to go to school. Aggression, militias, bullying also have their causes, which we should discover and understand if we are to deal with them effectively.
The second “why” is to understand oneself
The second question we should ask ourselves is: why is this child’s behaviour a problem? Many of the tips we read about whether we hear as parents are based on the assumption that there is one correct way to behave for all children and that there are solutions that are designed to match the child’s standard. The truth, however, is that every child is different. This does not mean that we should not respect the rules of life in society or ignore health rules. However, the solution to the problem lies in the individual situation. Why is it a problem for me that my child doesn’t want to wear a sweater? Because it’s cold for me and I think it feels the same? Or maybe because if my grandmother sees them without a sweater, she will get bored? Or because everyone else wears sweaters and blouses?
If we honestly answer the question ‘why is this a problem for me?’, we will find out whether we really should be concerned about it. Maybe my child feels the temperature differently than most people and it is just too warm in a sweater, and I’m a frostbite and I don’t allow myself to think that somebody can feel differently? If we understand ourselves, it will be easier for a child to allow his or her own individuality and to set reasonable limits for it.
The third ‘why’ is to understand the situation
Our relationship with our child is not disconnected from the rest of the world, we live in the world and among people, and all of this affects us. What we are parents of and how we react to our children’s behaviour is based on our own experiences in childhood and throughout life, in our current situation – at work, financially, in a relationship. Our relationships with other people and many other things that make up our lives are important.
Although children are not responsible for what happens in adults’ lives, sometimes they experience on their own the consequences of our conflicts with their boss, misunderstandings with friends, anxiety about their home budget. Sometimes it is difficult for us to separate what is happening between us and our child from the rest of the world that affects us. However, it is very important to try. This is what the third “why” is to serve – understanding the wider context of child behaviour but also our response to it. What happens in the family and can affect your child’s behaviour or emotions? Maybe my siblings have just appeared, or is my dad often leaving? My mother is worried because she might lose her job? Parents will be stressed because my grandfather is ill? What happens in my life, what influences my reactions? A marital crisis? A difficult project at work? Or maybe you are worried about your own health?
Children react to their parents’ emotional states like a sensitive barometer. When we are nervous, they too become stimulated, and our sorrow reacts to it.