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January 05, 2020

How to respond when your child acts out on purpose

All kids act out at some point and usually when kids act out it's for a purpose and usually to gain some sort of attention. Sometimes kids aren't even acting out they are just discovering who they are and it is easier to test the waters to check reactions and see what works and what doesn't. Sometimes we need to stop and realize that they may just be who they are and they aren't trying to be "Disrespectful or rude" they are just being kids and sometimes they act out. Before we try to figure out how to HELP our child we need to figure out what's going on.




Maybe they need extra one on one attention.

Think about any relationship you are in. We tend to take things personally and act differently when we have not been made a priority. Think about how it feels to our children when they are used to certain attention and then they are sharing their time with other children or maybe with your job or other life priorities. They will act out. They miss you. I am busy all the time with life, work, the home and the kids and not everyone gets that equal time. Try to spend one on one time with them. Talk to them get them to open up and explain that you still love and value them as a person and as their child but things are busy and different right now. Even if it is going for a walk show them by letting them know you value them and your personal relationship with them.


There is tension or stress in the home or at school

Kids are really good at picking up tension and carrying it as their own stress. I know it can be really hard to remember to separate yourself from being stressed in front of every one but it can be really beneficial to handle your stresses in other rooms. Our big stresses are our stresses. Even our small stresses can seem huge to our kids which can impact their behavior and how they act at home or school. It is okay to fill them in on some things that is healthy as a family but sometimes if it is a big issue handle it on your own and let them be little they don't need your stress. Don't be hard on yourself sometimes kids find things out and want to help but sometimes it just causes extra stresses on everyone.


They're simply just tired or hungry

I know when I am tired or hungry I get grumpy. Kids have a long day at school even though 8 hours doesn't seem like much to us to a small kid it is a lot. One thing we do is when our kids get home from school have them have time alone for one hour. Have a snack, do your homework then take some time to relax and get your emotions out. That way when they have an hour of wind down time they aren't as emotional and act out toward everyone else.


They're worried about something

Sit down and talk with them. Kids take small issues and turn them into huge issues. My kids are huge over worriers so talk with them see what the issue is and if they don't feel like opening up let them know the door is open.


They're angry, sad or frustrated

Every child at every age is going to feel frustrated or some sort of off feeling. As our kids age they are still learning how to control their emotions. Find a smile chart. I have talked about it before you find an emotions chart and every day have your child pick out what face they are feeling and then encourage them to talk about that face. Why are they feeling that way and help them work through it. And if you cannot help them...maybe encourage them to open up to someone else that they trust.


There is inconsistency

New job? New baby? New home? All of these things can have an impact on why our kids choose to act out sometimes. Routine is huge for a kid and when we change it even slightly that can feel huge to them, their whole dynamic is off.


They're over stimulated

Just like adults kids shut down when there is too much going on. Imagine all of these people around, different behaviors surrounding them, new rules or routine, GO GO GO. It can be A LOT. Understand that over stimulation can make anyone act out. If you are having super over stimulating days set some time for your child to have alone time, it will help a ton. Let them calm down and relax their mind and body before they get tossed back into the chaotic day.


They're testing you

I know this all too well. My kids tested me as toddlers, young kids and now one is as a preteen. It happens. They want to see how far they can push and if you are going to crack. Not only that they want to see where they stand as far as leadership. It is important for them to know that just because they are kids that doesn't mean they can't have some sort of control of their own. Set boundaries but also give them a little slack.


They don't have the words

It's really hard being a child or even a toddler and not being able to properly express through words on how they are feeling. Even as a young kid and teen they WANT to express themselves but opening up and talking really isn't something they want to do. So instead they might choose to act out and their behavior might change. If you are noticing their behavior might be off stop and think about what might be going on with them in their lives that could impact how they are acting. Let them know to use their words and how important verbal communication is. If they are young or maybe if they are non verbal encourage art, they can express themselves through drawing.


Something BIG is going on

Maybe there is someone at school who might be picking on them or being rude and disrespectful. It is hard for our kids to come up to us and say hey this person is doing this or that without them feeling sad or embarrassed. OPEN up the door let them know "You always have a safe place here you can tell me anything and I will never judge you" Let them know no matter what it is you will support them and never make them feel as if they "allowed" anything to happen. We want our children to feel safe and for them to know you have their back always. We don't want our children to be bullied however, it happens. Kids and even grown ups can be MEAN. Let them know to come to you let them know you will help them we don't want their behavior to get worse because they are bottling up big issues.




So how do we respond? With kindness, respect and grace. When children act out it is easy to assume they are being naughty on purpose or just being "bad" but most of the time there is a reason for it. Instead of labeling your child's behavior as just plain naughty stop and try to communicate in some sort of way. Ask yourself are there any big changes at home or has the family dynamic changed in some way. Is my child doing other things besides expressing themselves through behavior. Start there.






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