From wanting to be held to crying over the wrong flavor of yogurt, kids do some pretty inexplicable things. If we could only peek into their brains to see what in the world they are thinking, parenting might be a little easier. Aside from a lobotomy (which I hear is discouraged nowadays), here are some ways you can understand and even alter those tricky behaviors that are typical to many kids.
8 Reasons Why Kids Do the Things They Do
1. Tease Each Other
As kids grow and develop, they are gaining new language, social skills, and testing the boundaries of both. Teasing is their way of exploring what they can get away with. Jabbing their sister or taking away the baby’s toy gets a reaction and that reaction can be funny to them. Although it drives us crazy, teasing is a typical childhood response to growing up. Heck, I know adults (who shan’t be named) who still tease for the same reasons.
Some teasing is harmless, but if you want to discourage it, don’t give them the reaction they are craving. If teasing becomes hurtful, explain why it is harmful and model more positive ways to interact with siblings and friends.
Just today when I thought life was humming along to a Justin Timberlake song, my four-year-old threw herself onto the floor and commenced a tantrum that was Oscar-worthy. After about 20 minutes of cajoling, I finally found out that she wanted to be the one to stir the pancake batter.
Meltdowns are the bunion on every parent’s toe. According to Child Mind Institute, tantrums are “like fevers—we can’t make them stop until we understand what’s triggering them.” The next time your kid throws a tantrum, put on your detective hat and get to the bottom of it. Usually, it stems from a feeling of injustice. Your child feels she has been unjustly dealt with and the only way she knows how to express it is a tantrum.
3. Try Dangerous Things
Do you have a ‘dare devil’ child? Some kids love the thrill of climbing trees, jumping off of tall structures, and attempting some downright dangerous things. Why? First you need to determine if your kid is a prankster or a thrill-seeker. A prankster exhibits dangerous behavior as a cry for attention, whereas a thrill-seeker loves the challenge. Psychologist Edith Grotberg says that a prankster endangers other people, but a thrill-seeker wants to master a task.”
Try directing your little James Bond into appropriate yet still challenging activities like supervised rock climbing or parkour might be a good way to monitor their need for an adrenaline rush.
4. Bite or Pull Hair
I haven’t had a biter in the family until my youngest son. Consequently, he’s also the one that likes to pull hair. He’s two and is surrounded by older siblings and seems to use his teeth and quick hands as defense mechanisms.Biting is a fairly common childhood behavior. Kids bite because they either don’t have the language or social skills necessary to work through a problem. Same with pulling hair. For some kids, it’s a way to get the other person’s attention. It’s best to discourage biting and hair pulling from the get-go. Focus on more appropriate ways to say “Hello” or “I don’t like that,” like tapping on the shoulder or saying “No.”
5. Do the Opposite of What We Tell Them
We say stop teasing your sister, he keep teasing his sister. We ask her to go get her shoes on, she goes to get a snack instead. Why can’t kids just do what we say the first time we ask them?
For one, kids don’t share our priorities. To your daughter, getting a snack is way more important than getting shoes on at the moment. Another reason kids don’t immediately obey is that they are testing our boundaries. Junior wants to know just how far he can go before you snap. If you want them to listen the first time, try acknowledging their priorities.
“Okay, you need a snack. After you get a snack, will you please put your shoes on?” When your child is testing your boundaries, give a clear warning stating exactly what will happen if they don’t obey. “I you tease your sister one more time, you will not get your bedtime story tonight.” And then most importantly, follow through.
6. Experience Temporary Deafness
There have been times I’ve had to go snap my fingers in front of my kids’ ears, just to make sure they are working properly. Temporary deafness is not a pediatric medical condition—it is the maddening ability of kids to tune out the adult voice. Why do they do it?
Sometimes it’s because they just don’t want to do what we are asking and other times it’s because they’re distracted. Their minds are cluttered with butterflies and dancing cupcakes. To get their undivided attention, I usually have to get down to their eye level and ask my question again.
7. Mimic Everything They See and Hear
When I heard my three-year-old nephew relate how he “got a butt-load of candy” this Halloween, I knew the term didn’t come from his innocent brain. And then when my sister punched her husband in the arm, my suspicions are confirmed.
Kids mimic everything they see and hear. Why? Because every minute of every day they are learning. Loads and, well, butt-loads of information. Their little brains soak in everything they see and hear from the television, their parents, and their peers. Plus, copying you is the way they connect with you. It’s like saying, “My dad’s cool and I want to be just like him.”
8. Cling to You
Some kids are like barnacles—they cling to you in all kinds of weather. Why do some kids tend to need more physical connection than others? Well, the answer can be complicated. Around 6 to 10 months old, babies start to experience separation anxiety and cry whenever mom or dad leaves a room. Some kids want to be held 24-7. That usually eases up around 2-years-old, but sometimes it doesn’t.
The reasons could be anxiety, stress, fear of being alone, or the need for physical contact. If your child has always been clingy, be patient and search for methods to ease separation anxiety. If the clinginess seems new, try to get to the root of the problem.
When it comes down to it, we’re all just doing our best to try and understand our children. Why do kids do the things they do? Well, there are professionals to figure that out. In the mean time, be patient, loving, and hold on tight because it’s going to be an exhilarating ride!