Mirror, mirror on my son – Why do children really misbehave?

Can we re-frame children misbehavior?

Could it be possible that what we judge as misbehavior has an expansive lessons for us adults?

What if children misbehavior was a spiritual gift for us?

Consider the following,

Do they really misbehave?

What is misbehavior? The dictionary says that it is “improper or illegal behavior”.

So misbehavior implies that there is a set of rules that we should follow. Who dictates the rules? Why should we follow this set of rules or this other set of rules?

This makes me think about when the European settlers arrived to America. There was a huge cultural, religious, philosophical, moral and violent clash.

  • One God vs. The Divine Everywhere
  • Private Property vs.  Mother Earth provides for everyone, so all is from and for everyone
  • To forgive the life a prisoner vs. to die with dignity, offering our life to Divine

Who was right? Which set of rules was correct? For one, the other people where misbehaving and vice versa. So at home, which rule should we live by? What should be our code of conduct?

The first time that my 3 year old son put in one corner of the living-room all the furniture (and more), I was shocked! My first reaction was not positive. What a mess! I took a deep breath and a step back. I asked guidance: what would God do now? Observe, connect, see him with the eyes of delight. I asked him, “what do you do?” He proudly said: “We are going to France and this is an airplane”. I was in ecstasy. I joined his flight and his lesson. He eloquently thought me a brilliant lesson in entrepreneurship, resourcefulness, creativity, strength, persistence…

A dear mama of this community shared with me that her son bites. He’s more or less the same age of my daughter (15 months). I felt deeply identified when my daughter decided to do the same. In fact she bit her father. The poor man had an ugly little scar afterward. Explanation? Simple! She was hungry and food was not ready. Lesson? We need to honor our body. We cannot, we should not run on empty for so long. We have to listen to our body and nourish it as it deserves. She gave me a great lesson on self-worth.

My conclusion is that when a child is “misbehaving” there is a mismatch between our expectations and his. Children do not know our rules and you know, sometimes I think that they shouldn’t! Yes, sometimes I think that they shouldn’t follow our rules. In fact, sometimes I think we shouldn’t follow our own rules.

Why should we eat when we are not hungry? Why should we stay awake when we are tired? Why should we talk when we want to be quiet? Why should we ignore our inner guidance? Why should we ignore the desires and needs of our soul or of our body?

Children are very well connected to their needs. The little ones express them to crying and as they grow  they start expressing them as misbehavior.

Why is shouting and yelling self-defeating?

The biggestWell to start with, you’ll be exhausted! The more you shout, the louder they will shout or retreat. The more you shout, the bigger the distance between you and your children. The more you shout, the smaller their self-worth (and yours) It simply doesn’t work!

This makes me think of the quote of Benjamin Greene: The biggest atrocity of all is to indoctrinate our children into a system that does not value their creative expression, nor encourage their unique abilities. When we label misbehaving the creative expression of our children, we enter into the world of human destruction. We break their wings before they even test them.  And that way:

  • we perpetuate the system that is not serving us!
  • we build an abyss between you and your child, that will be very challenging to bridge as they become adolescents
  • we give our children the label of `bad boy` or `bad girl`

We are meant to stop the chain of guilt and fear that has created to much pain in our past generations. Let´s take a different approach. Let´s take an appreciative approach. Let´s be curious. Let´s ask different questions. Let´s ask constructive and loving questions.

1. Understand: Are their needs met?

Get into their shoes. Lower yourself to their perspective. Yes, literally fold yourself and look at the world from their own perspective. And make an attempt to understand what is going on?

  • If God saw this, what would he/she think, say, ask? See your child with infinite love. See his behavior as a message in a foreign language that you’ll decipher.
  • Why could she be biting/not doing her homework/taking toy away from sibling/hitting daddy….?  In all cases children are trying to tell us something, but we just don’t understand them. Think simple! What could the message be? Think like a child, not like an adult.
  • Are her needs met?
    • ‘I need your attention’. We live in the age of distraction. We can be at home with our children, but we’re reading our email on our tablet. We can be breastfeeding, but away with our thoughts on our problems. Children do not need more time from you, they need presence. They need attention. Sometimes they will do that which generated a loud “NO” precisely because of this.
    • ‘I want to know I can do it’. Why do we reward results? Crazy idea! That’s why we are dissatisfied today. We are a society that penalize learning, but glorifies outcomes. How can we learn to reach outcomes, if we are not allowed to get it wonrg? allow your child the joy of learning. Getting it wrong is terrific! It’s learning, it’s expansion, it’s life. Allow him to know that he can do it. Children are in the journey of learning how the world works, how their body works, how a book works, how it all works… Let him get full of flower, mud.. Let him be!
    • I need love. One of your children likes hugs, the other one stories, the other one cooking, the other one dancing… We all receive love in a different way. Tune to their way of feeling loved. Immerse yourself in that, enjoy it. Do it constantly. Make it a habit!
    • I need to create. We humans are creators. We adults have forgotten, but children know it. They have the right and the need to be creative. To be creative could mean destruction in out adult eyes/values.

2. Learn: Are your needs met?

So after asking those questions, you’ll see the behavior of your child in completely different light: love, attention, empowerment, creativity or something else. Now I would like to challenge you further.

Now I would like to challenge you to look at yourself in that mirror, the mirror of your son, the mirror of his behavior. Ask yourself,

  • Are you giving yourself enough attention?
  • Are you owning your own power?
  • Are you honor your self-worth?
  • What is your soul trying to tell you that you cannot yet understand?
  • Are you allowing yourself to go as far as you truly can? Aren’t you playing too small?

You’ll find 100% of the time that the “misbehavior” of your child has always a precise message for you. They are always relevant and precise teachers for us, of course if you are open to see this.

So next time you see your child acting “funny”, don’t jump to conclusions, don’t get angry, take a step back and see what’s the lesson for you.

3. What could we become together?

I want to challenge you to take one more step in this challenging learning. I want to invite you to imagine something above what you want from your child and what your child wants. I want to invite you to think, to invent something superior to what happened.

Instead of yelling at my plane builder, I could help him build a brand new living-room that pleases both mom and child. We’ll build something unique. We’ll be co-creators. We’ll be sitting and eating in our own plane, flying to France, everyday.

Instead of shouting at my bull-terrier daughter, I could involve her in healing her father. She could become a nurse for her dad.

Even more!

Instead of getting angry at my entrepreneurial plane builder, I could ask him to design the thank you notes that I want to send to my customers. We work together in expanding OUR entrepreneurial capabilities.

Instead of getting angry at my hungry bitter, I could involve her in cooking a wholesome meal for OUR divine body.

Yes, you could say that these are preventive actions. But I would like to see them as pure creation of a live worth living. I think of the Vesica Piscis. One circle is the world of your child. The other circle is your world. The overlap of the 2 circles is the place of creation. It is where the magic happens.

Think in his needs. Honor his needs.

Think in your needs. Honor your needs.

Think on a reality that honors both of you at the same time. Co-create with your child solutions that will expand you both together. Co-create with your child a code of conduct that will honor both his and your needs. Co-create with your child a code of conduct that will insure his and your creativity. Co-create with your child a code of conduct that will ensure love as the driving force of your family.

Enjoy!

Share it with fellow parents of gods! AND let us know how this works for you! Give your comments below!

  • M.A. van Hoek

    Great article. As a fresh dad (a daughter of 14 months) I feel strong identification with this article.

    Over the past 14 months I feel like I’ve been re-borne. Sometimes literally. When it comes to toy interests, playing games, laughing, crying, I place myself in the world of my daughter and I really enjoy it. I constantly think that I can really ‘feel’ her needs for love, pleasure and consolation.

    I am honestly not sure to say I prefer spending my time in her ‘circle’ more than being in my own, but it sure feels that way. Let’s call it a dad’s journey 🙂

    As much as I like this article, I feel a bit uncomfortable with some approaches and therefore I’d like to challenge it. So let’s focus on the airplane engineer.

    There is no lack of creativity in a child and it is definitely our parent responsibility to encourage and stimulate a childs brain doing the unthinkable, because on their life journey, they constantly think ‘out of the box’. My daughter is too young to build an airplane out of table and chair construction materials, but I definitely would enjoy that scene to the fullest. How I would react is something else. Honestly… I don’t know at this point. But that’s where I challenge this article.

    Praising the child by showing interest and even joining the flight to a nice holiday resort, sounds very appealing and respectful. But this is where I think the approach is incomplete. Obviously the child feels himself a well educated mechanic engineer and a pilot. So let’s imagine his parents go out for a real holiday the very next weekend and the child is staying over at his grandparents. Now of course the child is seeking for more compliments and is determined to proudly show his engineering scales. Therefore he collects new airplane construction materials out of this living room. The broken vase is now officially considered collateral damage.

    The grandparents may not be that amused with the result and react in a complete opposite way of his parents. I’m worried that this distracts the child so much, he finds himself inconsolable.

    As a parent I feel the responsibility to encourage all children’s creative thoughts. On the other hand I feel the same responsibility to prepare them for a tough society, where they have to stand up for themselves, acting between their own persuasions and the ‘pre-defined rules’ that simply cannot be ignored.

    I guess I can leave this topic with an open question: How can boundaries be taught to children with respect to the approach of participation (section 1) or collaboration (section 3)?

    • http://www.blancavergara.com/ Blanca Vergara

      Thank you so much for opening the conversation! I love the care and detail of your comment. Thank you!
      You give me inspiration for more content! I promise to write more on this!
      My thoughts on what do when child goes to grandparents and the vase brakes. Well, this is the story of disappointment outside home, of disappointment when confronted with the previous generation, with the system. Well, that is bound to happen. The rules that we are following now are being challenged by the new generation. No wander the term `Authority Defiance Disorder” emerged.
      I believe that our duty is to be the basic ground where our children can rest, the loving ground where they are safe to be: to express their opinion, to say/do something “crazy”. We cannot expect anyone to understand and love our children the way we do it. The only thing we can do is to be open for who they are and be unconditionally there for when disappointment will come. Because you are right, it will come.
      The second point on participation and collaboration, I would say: example! In my opinion, this and any other skill that we want to “teach” out children can only the thought by example. I don’t force either children to clean. I just start cleaning and they both ask for their aprons and cleaning materials. They love to help mama, to be involved, to participate.
      Words don’t teach, example transforms. Nowadays children defy authority, because is not example based. When we walk our talk as humanity, as adults, (on subjects as compassion, creativity, participation, cooperation…) the children would just do it.
      In fact, I see the opposite, children teach us how to do precisely that. We need to learn from them.
      There is so much to say on this topic! AND I got inspired! I promise to continue writing on the subject, so that we write a brand new chapter of humanity!
      All kind of blessings to you, Esther and Sarah!

x
Join Us Reinventing Humanity

Enter your email and be in the know,