Child behavior understanding is an important precondition for the child’s development into a mentally healthier person. This will be achieved to a great extent, if we act in a right way with them. But, proper raising is possible only if parents understand their behavior.
The first and fundamental mistake in the assessment of the child’s behavior is the fact that many parents compare children with themselves. They assume that the child behaves in a certain way for the same reasons, the same motives, and with the same attitude towards the environment as the adults. But the child is not an adult person in a nutshell, it is a homunculus – a man in diminutive. Of course, many physical and mental functions of the child are less developed than in the adult person, and not fully ripened. For example, the children do not have the muscular power of adults, so compared, they don’t have the intelligence of adults, knowledge or life experience.
But in order to understand the children, it is important to be familiar with the contemporary children’s psychology, which does not differ from the psychology for adults in a qualitative sense, it differs only quantitatively. The children are essentially different from adults. The have different life needs, interests and aspirations. Their life experience and knowledge are not only poorer, but also fundamentally different from how adults experience the world. The children’s intelligence is not only inferior to the intellectual abilities of the adult person, but also have a different structure – emotionally responds differently to the sensations of the environment. So, all psychological characteristics of the children have their own specific features. The parent’s task is to recognize and accept them, be empathetic and to adapt them, and to take them into account regarding the relationship towards their child.
The second mistake that many parents make is that they evaluate the behavior of the children according to their immediate reaction. They never ask the question, why the children sometimes behave as the parent wants and another time as it suits them. If the child is obedient and ambitious, serious and disciplined, most parents will evaluate such a child as “good”. On the contrary, the rebellious, naughty or temperamental child will be judged as “mischievous”.
On the basis of these examples we can conclude that the first case is about a child with a healthy and positive social structure of the person, and in the second, a child person who develops in an unhealthy, socially negative sense. But such a conclusion is wrong. At first glance, positive child behavior can only be apparent, but in fact it is negative. Conversely, a dynamic child can be an expression of a healthy structural personality. It happens that when the child is calm, worthy and obedient in front of the parents only to harm their brother or sister for jealousy and to devalue their brother or sister in the eyes of the parents. Or, the child is serious and diligent just because they suppresses their emotions or feels a strong feeling of insecurity and an inability to react among his peers like any other average child.
Also, defiant behavior is not always an example of a child being bad. Such behavior is sometimes a reflection of a healthy childish resistance against the wrong actions, inconsistencies and tutelage of the parent. The child’s aspiration to protect themselves against negative environmental influences is a sign of their vitality and the innate sense of resistance. It is because of this characteristic that many children do not develop into negative persons, although parents were passive when the child was formed as a person. Dynamic – restless children, the environment calls them “impossible” and “difficult to upbringing”, are usually children who are temperamental, and according to their behavior, a good prognosis can be made for their further mental development, unless the parents make major mistakes and take the child to the wrong path.
In assessing the behavior of children, one should not take into account only the way they react, but to find out what motivates them to react. This means that parents need to ask themselves:
- What is the meaning and the purpose of the child’s reaction at a given moment
- What implies the child to behave in such a way
- What is their need for this kind of behavior
- Where it originates from
A certain form of behavior gets a social and moral sense only because of the motive, what is causing such behavior and to which goal it strives.
When the parents know the origin and the motive for a certain child behavior, then they can say that understand the child. The knowledge of motivation sets the principles of proper upbringing. Therefore, if the parents do not understand the motives for the behavior of the child, they will not be able to fully understand it, and they will not be able to successfully implement the upbringing in everyday practice. Even less is it possible to find a way to successfully raise a child with a disorder if it is not revealed what is “hiding” behind such a behavior and what happens in the child’s psyche. The parent should find it and influence the motivation as a reason for the disrupted behavior. To the young person, it is important to support the natural, healthy and socially useful motivations, while the unreal and non-social ones to be suppressed.
The impact only on behavior, without considering its causes, does not make sense, because it will not produce a positive result. There are parents who have experienced many times, that forcing the child to study with various threats and moral preaching do not achieve a lasting result, yet in the process of correction they still make the same mistake with the child. It has long been known that with physical punishment – prohibition of leaving the room, playing outside- we can only suppress the current childish defiance, but not the defiance itself. If we persistently apply this educational measure and do not see its meaninglessness, the defiance will very soon appear in a changed shape, but with much greater vigor. Parents need to think carefully, and try to find the real reasons for such behavior. The reasons, as a rule, are most often found in the very environment in which the child grows up and in the actions of the parents, and not in the child itself. Only by removing these reasons why the child behaves inappropriately and by correcting the parents actions the desired result will be produced.
Many parents are making mistake when the reason for particular behavior of their child is sought in their individual qualities. If one wants to find a successful method of upbringing at every opportunity, parents need to address their behavior towards the child with great self-criticism. Whenever a child is not properly governed, the true parent – pedagogue will ask themselves where they wrong and what caused a reaction of dissatisfaction of the child. It should always be borne in mind that the child’s behavior is essentially their reaction to the environment. Therefore, in order to correct the behavior of the child, it is necessary to correct the educator himself, only this will provide a precondition for permanent correction and development of a healthy child psyche.
There is another misconception about the attitude of adults towards children. It is common for a child to be punished promptly when it does not behave properly on a given occasion. This type of punishment automatically creates a tendency for repression. Instead, it is necessary to understand the cause of inadequate behavior that is usually a result of the current state of the child’s psyche. To understand a child who behaves inadequately, first and foremost, one needs to understand that either it suffers of something, or it has some mental disorders at the very least. If the exact cause is determined, then the need for assistance is logically imposed, in order to overcome the problems and without punishments.