Children communicate not only with words, but also with actions. Your behavior tells us a lot about your condition and your needs. Educational advisor Maya Risch reveals how you can recognize and understand a child’s hidden messages.
Inthe consultation, a father recently told me what he had experienced on a hike: “When we were in the mountain restaurant, my three-year-old son suddenly climbed onto the wooden table and started walking back and forth.” That made me curious. Why did this boy get on the table and walk on it? Did he want to show how big he is already? Did he want to explore what the world looks like from above? Or did he just want to provoke his parents and do something he knew he couldn’t do? With a bit of thought, you can understand a child’s hidden messages.
Children react to their environment
Children almost always have a good reason for their behavior. They are reacting to their environment. For us, this behavior is sometimes a mystery, it annoys us or we feel provoked by it. Or we think we have no time for this “nonsense” and want the child to rest and behave properly.
The father went on to say that he had just had a good day at the time and didn’t go off right away, but asked: «What are you doing up there? I don’t want you to walk around on the table with your shoes on. Come down! “The three-year-old boy replied:” You didn’t listen to me! “Aha! The little boy wanted to express with his action that he had already tried several times to ask or tell something that was important to him, the parents had not heard him. With his behavior, he naturally received the desired attention quickly.
The father reacted calmly: «Yes, that’s true, we just didn’t realize that you wanted to tell us something. Thank you for letting us know. Come down and I listen to you ». If the father had had a “bad” day, he would have been angry and might have shouted at the child and dealt with it. He would have missed a chance to strengthen the relationship with his son and appreciate that his boy could express himself so clearly.
Ways to understand a child’s hidden messages
Show and question interest
It is usually difficult for us parents to understand a child’s hidden messages. Especially when children do not behave in a compliant manner, resist, break the rules or we feel otherwise provoked. Aggressive behavior by children is always triggered by something. The child has a good reason to become aggressive, to resist or to withdraw. With his behavior it wants to tell us something that he is mostly not aware of.
If we succeed in seeing the child’s behavior as an invitation to be interested in what moves the child, we can sometimes understand, like the father in the example, what the child wants to tell us.
How to recognize hidden messages
Does your child behave differently than you expect? Maybe it wants to tell you something. These messages could be behind the action:
«I’m not feeling so well right now, I don’t know how to help myself anymore. Can someone see what’s going on with me please? “
“I can no longer play calmly, I need exercise.”
«I’m hungry, thirsty, I’m tired. I need to eat, drink, sleep. »
«I am not close to you, I feel left alone and misunderstood. You have so much to do with the baby, work, sick grandpa, … »
«I have too little self-determination, I cannot have a say. I can’t do anything. You always say no. »
«You come too close to me. I don’t feel well like that. »
«You don’t trust me. I can’t do anything myself. I need more trust. »
“You never say no, I feel disoriented.”
For a long time I thought that children can say what doesn’t suit them and what they need, like the little boy in the example at the beginning. I learned from my son that this is an exception when he was about 10 years old.
Older children also send messages
For a while we had at home practically every evening brushing teeth and bringing bad mood and arguments to bed. My older son was irritated and annoyed his brother. It started with a tease, followed by a devaluation, nudging – and so it went on. The younger boy did not put up with this and resisted, becoming loud and rude. I couldn’t stand the noise and tension, and I also got loud. After a few days it occurred to me that my older son might want to tell me something. But I just couldn’t figure out what this could be.
A few evenings later, I reacted somewhat annoyed from the gut: «I just don’t understand what’s going on in the evening. Every evening ends in a fight. Do you want me to accompany you, my older son, to bed again first? ”To my great surprise, he answered with a simple“ yes ”. For a moment I was speechless about this unexpectedly clear answer, then I said: “Aha, tell me then, I like doing it. It would be so much easier for me and all of us if you told us what was stressing you out. “He replied:” If I could have done that, I would have done it. “
That evening I realized that I overestimated children’s ability to express their needs. I realized that this also applies to older children who can otherwise express themselves very well.
Isn’t it the case that we adults don’t always know why we are annoyed, sad or aggressive and what we need to make us feel better? Often we don’t have the right words or don’t dare to say them. Is it surprising that this is even more difficult for children?