Behaviours, whether coming from a child or an adult, are a communication of unmet needs.
It is a communication of what we have right now and what we want, and is NEED driven.
Pam Leo: Connection Parenting: Parenting through connections instead of coercion.
Your child's behaviour is a way that are communicating with you.
Young children depend on their parents or care givers to meet their emotional as well as physical needs. When you child is having a meltdown, like any adult, they have pent up emotions inside them, and he/she channels that energy out through their behaviour. It is a way of communicating with you about how he/she is feeling and he/she needs your help to settle that uncomfortable energy inside them.
Your child is not acting out to annoy you or to defy you. They are not acting out because they are naughty or bad, but they just need a safe place to let go of the pent out heavy energy so that they will feel better.
The behaviour can sometimes be very challenging for parents, especially when the child cries, screams, hits or yells… This is because their brain that is in charge of language, speech and emotion is still developing, and due to their lack of language/speech capabilities and because their nervous system is still developing, they are still unable to regulate their emotions and express them properly.
So that's why they really need you to understand and guide and help them to regulate their emotions.
How can you help?
- Be calm (I know it can be hard, but try your very best – remember, it is not about you.)
- Stay connected with your child – assure them that you will be there for them and they are not alone.
- Let them know it is safe to express their emotions.
- Observe and ask yourself, "what is causing my child to be so upset? “.
- What is this behaviour about? Are they hungry? Are they in pain?
- What do they need?
Connect with your child
When parents are deeply connected with their children, they understand their children's cues at a deeper level. Then they are able to empathise with their children's meltdowns, upsets and difficult behaviour. Your children will feel heard and understood, and thus learn to relax and let go of their anxiousness and upsets. This way, they learn how to regulate their emotions and feelings.
Your baby experiences just as much emotion as any human being, big or small, but because his or her nervous system is still not yet developed, they are unable to regulate the level of stress inside. So when he or she cries, the better you understand your baby's needs, the sooner your baby will grow to trust you and feel safe, knowing that he or she can rely on you to help sooth them and care for their needs.
A young child's healthy development depends on having their innate relationship needs met. They need their parents or primary carer close by for comfort and safety, as well as emotional bonding, emotional attunement and emotional attachment.
Through the strong emotional attunement and bonding, your baby learns to trust you, and so it will be more calm and settled.
Your preschoolers experience as much emotion as any human being, big or small; however, their brains are still developing. They are still learning about language and about their emotions, yet their emotions are real. They experience feelings like frustration, disappointment, jealousy, fear, happiness, sadness, anxiety…
They are still trying to identify those emotions, and trying to understand what those emotions mean. That's why you tend to notice toddlers and preschoolers sometimes expressing those emotions through crying, whining, temper tantrums, hitting, biting or slamming their body on the ground etc.
This is the time where parental understanding and empathising is crucial. When your child feels that they are being heard and understood, their inner most frustrations, scariest emotions… are understood and heard, and so they can feel safe to express themselves without the fear of punishment, being screamed at or being judged.
School Age or teenagers
Children of all ages need your understanding and support. They don't purposely go out of their way to make your life difficult or hard. What they really need is to feel heard, supported, and loved unconditionally.
Whatever you are feeling, remember, the meltdowns are NOT about you. It is your child's need to release his or her frustrations, and their fears or anxiousness. Only then will they calm down and listen to what you have to say. When your child's needs are met, you will see less meltdowns, more cooperation and much happier personalities.
Your child needs to know he is loved unconditionally!
Have a connected day with your children.
Check out this amazing book by Pam Leo