Getting to the Root of Behavior Problems

Photo by Sarah FernandezLike many three-year-olds, my daughter is sassy. She has her own style and her own opinions. And just in case you were curious, whatever it is that needs to be done, she can do it herself. From getting dressed to making her lunch to climbing the monkey bars, she thinks she can do it all. And while I want her to be confident and believe that the sky is the limit, I know that what appears to be confidence is actually stubbornness, and there is a difference between knowing how to do something and just not doing what you are asked. Lately we've really been butting heads, and finally I found out why.

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During a timeout the other day after a fierce display of a bad attitude, I was talking to my daughter and told her that I had really had enough of her behavior and it needed to change. That's when she laid it all out (like a teenager as she was sprawled across her bed giving me a pouty lip). She didn't realize what she was doing, but her words said so much. "You always tell me what to do!"

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I have to admit that during our meltdowns of late, there has been a lot of her yelling, "Stop telling me what to do!" and "You're not the boss!" My response was that telling her what to do actually is my job. As I mentioned she is only three. I spend much of my day telling her to pick up her toys, get dressed, close the door, brush her teeth, and a myriad of other things that need to be done because most of them she's not doing on her own. But for my independent little girl, she had become incredibly frustrated with feeling like she couldn't make any of her own decisions.

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So we had a chat. I told her that if she did all the things that are her responsibility as a part of our family such as helping keep the house tidy, closing doors when she comes in and out of the house, hanging up her coat, brushing her hair, etc. on her own then I would stop telling her what to do so often. When I asked if she thought she could do all those things on her own, she said "no." So I explained that I would then be continuing to ask her to do things.

While it may seem surprising, even though she didn't actually gain any power in her struggle for control, ever since we had that conversation, we've been able to solve her attitude problems a lot faster. Because I know the root of her issue, I'm able to approach the situation from a different standpoint instead of just being completely frustrated with her behavior. And I understand that she's not actually mad at me because she doesn't want to pick up her toys, but because she wants to come to that idea on her own.

The bottom line is that when kids act out, there is a reason for it, and when the behavior is recurring, the issue is something bigger than them just not getting their way at that very moment. Finding the root of the problem that is causing the behavior is what will ultimately help you move forward and find your happy place with your child, whether they are one or twenty-one.

This post was written by Sarah Fernandez of Chateau & Bungalow.

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