When children are going through the divorce process, sometimes they struggle to articulate how they feel internally. This can lead to them expressing their emotions externally through disruptive behavioral patterns or one-time incidents that display emotional distress. Other times, children can become withdrawn because they feel their safety and security has been violated or abandoned. Regardless of the new signs, you may notice in your child, it really depends on a child’s personality and how they respond to emotional distress and discomfort.
But, what happens when your child becomes disruptive to the entire household or begins talking back after you kindly ask them to complete their daily chores? You probably feel like you are already walking on thin ice with your own emotional wounds and losing more patience by the minute. It’s almost natural to want to raise your voice to resume order in the house because after all, you’re the parent. Yet, when raising one’s voice to communicate, it creates more conflict and disconnects with your child preventing a healthy resolution.
While being a single parent isn’t always easy, at the same time there are simpler ways you can help your children collaborate with you to minimize the disruptive behaviors and get a restful night of sleep.
Here Are 3 Steps To Follow When Your Children Act Out:
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and reactive when something else seems to go wrong in the home. As a parent, you have a full plate with lots of moving parts, and trying to do it all can downright seem exhausting. This is why maintaining your daily self-care and self-love is a top priority when becoming a parent. It keeps you centered and calm through all ups and downs.
As you try to resolve behavioral outbursts with your children, it’s best to keep your emotions at bay. If your children are having a hard time expressing their feelings, then adding more fuel to the fire will only add gas to the flames.
Children look to their parents for stability and safety and one way of providing that is by having calm, soothing energy. This allows you to logically respond to ornery behavior versus react. When responding, it will help you get to the bottom of what they are feeling, so you can put a kibosh on the behavior before it escalates any further.
2.Show Them Respect
We respectfully understand you are the children’s parent and live according to specific values and beliefs about parenting. For example, you may have been raised with the mindset that the parent is always in charge of the home. And, while this may be true we still need to treat children with the same amount of respect as you would an adult.
Children deserve respect like any other human being. In order to show them respect, it’s best to get on their level when having a conversation about their behavior. Whether you are sitting Indian style on the floor or crouching down on your knees, this helps lower the defensiveness or anger they may be feeling that lead to the outburst in the first place.
Also, we want to refrain from using volatile language, belittling, or anything that attacks their character. Remember your child is learning from the best, you, and they are very impressionable at their young age. So when understanding their feelings, we are only addressing the behavior that has been displayed to help them correct it through a constructive conversation.
If there are any steps that take priority, it’s this one! It’s very easy to emotionally react when your child is out of control and not listening to your request. Yet, when you react with negative emotion to their distress, not much can be resolved when you have two individuals with heightened emotions.
When your child begins to act out and you want to yell at them to stop, try asking them questions versus demanding a result. When you ask your children a question it helps them reflect on their behavior and provide a rational explanation as to why they chose to behave in such a manner. This will help you as a parent work through their behavior and help teach them whether it’s proper to act that way or not.
You can also ask them to come up with a better way to respond when they aren’t feeling their best or suggest self-soothing exercises. This teaches them how to solve problems which will naturally make them feel like a leader and more confidently secure in the situation. Children are never too young to start critical thinking skills.
When it comes to asking questions, you want to start with how, what, where, can, tell me more, or help me understand. Avoid using “why” questions as it puts the child to continue to react and feel emotionally charged. Once you establish the type of question to ask, then you will end the question with the behavior the child is displaying.
Examples of scenarios and questions you may ask:
Help me understand how come you’re hitting your siblings? How would you feel if they were to hit you? What do you suggest we do to fix this?
What’s causing you to scream right now? Would you like to talk about it?
Can you share with me how come you are upset right now?
How do we talk to each other when we are upset? Do we yell or kindly express what we are feeling?
Where do our feet belong when we are eating dinner?
How come your homework isn't done? Would you like us to sit at the kitchen table and do it together?
What do you dislike about what we are having for dinner? To grow stronger, what do we need to eat? Would you like some alone time to cool down and think about it?
What do you need so you don’t bite? What happens when we bite others? Does it hurt?
Tell me more about kicking the dirt and throwing rocks at your grandparent’s house?
If the behavior continues after calmly addressing it, then other solutions may need to be implemented in the home. To learn more about self-soothing techniques or how to establish effective consequences send a message to us in the chatbox at the lower right-hand corner.