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How to deal with difficult children’s behaviour

By Pamellah Mutenga |

Difficult Child

One of the characteristics usually attributed to so called “difficult children” by parents, is that their behaviour does not seem to fit within the box or match the parents’ idea of an ideal child’s behaviour. In this article, my aim is to try and open that box to provide another very important view; viewing children’s behaviour through different lenses. To give parents a broader perspective and to shift their attention from what the children do to why such children’s lives are unique.

I find that virtually every family has a child who may easily be classed as difficult and I have had my fair share of dealing with a unique child.

The way every individual reacts to situations, is informed and dictated by their knowledge concerning the matter they need to deal with. This is true in the case of parenting. The ability of parents to see things the way children see them is crucial to parenting a confident, focussed and settled child.

It is regrettable that many parents or guardians believe successful parenting is borne out of the abundance of gifts a child receives from them. This may include facilitating the children to do everything they desire despite the cost. While this may seem to show a parent’s affection towards a child, such a child may get confused when their parent reacts to their behaviour with different or unexpected emotions. Some parents may have a sense of betrayal due to the sacrifice they may have made. However, it is crucial to remember that children may have a different view of their behaviour compared to their parents.

A child’s behaviour may induce serious negative emotions in the parents, these may be confusing and cause some parents to doubt their love for their children. In case these emotions are deflected onto the children, they may have a very negative impact on them. While physical abuse can easily be detected, emotional effects on children operate stealthily and may not be recognised early enough. The manifestation of negative emotions is normal and the parent should not feel guilty. However, they must guard against their actions being influenced by the emotions.

One of the most important revelations to a parent is the link between a child’s behaviour and their purpose or who the child is. Every child born on the planet is born with a unique purpose. The realisation of this link helps a parent to take their attention away from what a child does in terms of their behaviour, to who the child is. Purpose may be defined as; destination that prompts the journey, original reason for the existence of a thing, cause for the creation of a thing and need that makes a manufacturer produce.

For example, consider a manufacturer who conceives the idea of creating a device to make smoothies. In the mind of this manufacturer, we could imagine their desire to blend fruits and vegetables to make smoothies and this would be the purpose of the device. The manufacturer then goes on to develop a design to produce the function (blending) that will fulfil this purpose. It is the design that determines the materials, components which are then assembled to produce the blender. This means that the blending ability is inbuilt within the blender.

Similarly, every human being has been created by God and born with a purpose. Only the fulfilment of this purpose defines their success in life. The world needs something that your child contains, something in them to fulfil their creator’s purpose. The totality of the child’s being including, their size, stature, behaviour, attitude, projection of their voice, is specifically designed to help them fulfil their purpose.

The other important issue is that as parents, you are charged with the responsibility of intentionally helping the children to develop their abilities and fulfil their purpose. Within the child’s nature is an inbuilt lifelong desire to fulfil their purpose, that means that they will exercise all the necessary inbuilt abilities right from childhood.

A story is told of the famous 100m champion sprinter called Usain Bolt. As a child, his parents and relatives always wondered why he would not settle down in one place. He always ran wherever he went. Imagine your child always running around in the house, possibly breaking a few things, jumping in the sofas and bumping into their siblings. As a parent, you have done all you can and the child is getting frustrated because of your behaviour towards them which often is an expression of your frustration. Parenting rapidly becomes a joyless and stressful act.

As the saying goes, “you can only manage something you know”. To have the knowledge that a child’s behaviour may be linked to who the child is built to be, will help one change how they react to the child’s behaviour. They will help to direct the child’s behaviour in a more positive way and more importantly, they will be able to manage their emotions and express love towards the child simply because their view is shifted to who the child is rather than the child’s behaviour.

It is important to remember that children’s peculiar behaviour may be related to other issues which may require some investigation. However, that is outside the remit of this article and will be dealt with in the next article.


1 comment

  • Jeff

    This is a very interesting piece. “The best way to deal with situations is to acquire more knowledge concerning them”. This article is unique in its approach; focussing on the uniqueness of a child rather than their seemingly out of the box behaviour helps to highlight all the great things God has invested in our children. It is also humbling to think that we are specifically chosen to help them be who they are created to be. Well done.

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