Seeing your sweet child turn into this horrible monster is never easy, and a parent would normally feel a variety of emotions with shock topping the list – “when did my child turn into this horrible person?”, next comes anger – “why is he acting this way?” and then guilt – “what did I do wrong in raising him?”
Let me tell you now that while your parenting technique may have something to do with the child’s behavior, it’s not the main cause. Your child is acting this way because this is his “cope of choice”.
Whenever a child is angry, upset or disappointed; how he reacts to what is happening to him is called his “cope of choice”. Some children/ teenagers copes by keeping to themselves, some by talking to friends while some – like in this case – have to destroy things.
There may be different reasons behind a destructive child’s behavior. One of this is low frustration tolerance. Even adults want things to go their way, how much more with kids? Yes, toddlers throw tantrums out of frustration and yes, some teenagers throw tantrums way after we expect them to. By being destructive, kids are physically letting out stress. This can be very effective, although unpleasant to the people around the child.
One of the most effective ways to get over this is to help your child understand his emotions and to teach him another way of venting. The first step, of course, is to show him that you are also his friend. Talking, and especially, listening to your child can help. Start with small steps. Start by asking him how school went – if he doesn’t want to talk, don’t push it. He’ll eventually get used to this and would start to open up.
Do not get angry on your child for what he’s feeling. If your daughter’s mad that a friend doesn’t want to sit with her on the cafeteria anymore, acknowledge her feelings. When dealing with teenagers, saying “everything will be alright” may just be one of the worst things you can say. It might be better to just listen to your child and throw a question or two to keep her or him on talking.
Another reason for a child’s destructive behavior is intimidation. On the countless of studies experts have conducted on this matter, it was found out that a good number of teenagers actually know how control their feelings yet throws things around just to intimidate their parents into letting them have their way.
Personally, I think this is one of the easiest “causes” to control. It’s as simple as letting your child know who the parent is. This is also a lot like handling a toddler: if you ignore a toddler when he or she starts throwing a tantrum, chances are he’ll minimize doing it.
Once your teenage child starts getting destructive because he can’t get his way (note that this is different from children who really have problems controlling their behavior. For instance, Sally got so disappointed because the family can’t go to the theater due to the bad weather. There is no way that Sally’s “tantrum” can make the weather change but she still gets destructive because she’s too frustrated about the sudden change of plans), let him be. The key here is to ignore him, again, just like when a toddler starts throwing his toys away because he can’t “have one more candy”.
Of course, we can’t ignore the fact that some children gets destructive out of revenge on the parents. Some parents may find that something they value or something they owned gets broken and no one knows what happened. Unless you have proof that your child did it, I’m pretty sure he’d deny the deed until there’s no breath left in his body.
Now, this is why parents need to start discipline early in the child’s life. Although it’s not impossible, it’s harder to discipline a child when he’s older (lucky there are some effective parenting programs to help with a defiant child).
The problem stated above could have prevented if 1.) The parent taught the child how to handle his emotions more effectively 2.) If the child was taught how to express his emotions without having to be destructive and 3.) The parents have fostered a good parent-child relationship where the parents are available to talk to their child about anything and everything under the sun.
Having a destructive child/ teenager at home can really have a big effect on the family. Although parents want to shield and protect their child all the time, not making him responsible for his behavior will cause more problems. Instead of walking on eggshells around the child just so he don’t destroy or damage properties, talk to him and make sure that he knows who the parent is – the one in control. For extreme cases (sometimes nothing works no matter what we do), you might want to get help from a professional.