Dealing with an Unruly Child

We usually react in embarrassment or shame when our Unruly Child acts up in public. We might even become angry especially when others are within hearing distance and catches every rude word the child said.

This reaction is normal. But you should not dwell on the rude behavior.

Unfortunately, instead of handling it the right way, most parents take what the unruly child says personally. That is wrong.

If we consider it closely, the unruly child was not attacking you. He or she was not trying to disrespect you either. Getting you embarrassed and putting you at risk of being judged a bad parent by those present around you was never the goal.

The child is only concerned with what he or she wants. It’s these personal desires and wants that the child is focusing on. You just happened to be in the way.

There are many causes as to why a child becomes unruly. Chief of these, however, is the struggle for power or control. The child does not feel he can do very much. He or she just wants a little control.

Control is being able to make some choices. It is important for parents to understand that the unruly child is just trying to assert his or her own ability to make choices. Parents should never look at it as a power grab or a challenge to their authority.

It is this feeling that we are being disrespected and our authority challenged that makes us react the way we do. This is why we take the behavior of the unruly child personally.

Dr. James Lehman, a child behavior expert, advices parents in situations like this not to let their frustration and anger get the better of them.

“Allowing the disrespect shown by the child and the foot stomping and stuff like that get to you is contributing to the problem,” Dr. Lehman says.

Always allow your child a little room to show frustration. That is healthy. By forcing the child to bottle up his frustrations for fear mom or dad would become angry may result to bigger behavior problems.

Dr. Lehman advises that you let your child cool off first. Afterwards, you go sit with your child and explain to him or her why mom and dad are the ones laying down the rules.

By letting the unruly child understand why parents have to take care of them, they will feel secure and loved. And more importantly, understand why it is not good to become unruly.

Dr. Lehman also recommends that you try thinking of ways you can provide your child with safe avenues to exercise some control. You can do this by giving him or her choices. Be creative in how you do this too. Satisfying a child’s need to have a little control can have positive effects.

If you want to learn more techniques to help you handle an unruly child, learn more from Dr. Lehman’s Total Transformation – the at-home child behavior change program he developed that is helping parents deal with child behavior issues around the world.