Children get into trouble for all sorts of reasons, but they are often not mature enough to know what might be driving their behaviour. Most unwanted behaviour comes from unmet needs, and if a child is constantly playing up, it’s good for us to pause and work out what else could be going on.
Children get caught in negative spirals, often getting into trouble at home and at school. When a child continuously gets into trouble and there is lots of growling, nagging and telling off, they start to believe that being naughty is who they are, and they grow into this picture of themselves. When a child constantly hears what they have done wrong, they can assume that there is something wrong with them, and they begin to live with a sense of shame. What sounds like an observation from an adult may be internalised as a statement about their value. For example, when a parent says, “You should know better. How many times do I need to remind you to put this stuff away?”, the child may hear, “You are a pain. You can’t remember a thing. Why are you doing this to us?”
Parents also get alarmed by their children’s behaviour. It can feel personal and anxious thoughts arise about the behaviours worsening or their child’s isolation intensifying. Parents can also find themselves sensitive to every mistake and wrong action made by their child, and their annoyance adds up and spills over.