Why your child isn’t being “naughty”…

People use the word naughty to talk about being “disobedient” or “badly behaved”. When we call children naughty we are suggesting they have done something intentionally wrong.

But here’s the thing…they haven’t done it to annoy us. They haven’t done it to manipulate us. They don’t like making the people they love, angry or frustrated.

The truth is, their brains are still developing. They haven’t learned how to regulate their feeling yet. So when they get it “wrong”, it’s because they are still learning. When they have a tantrum, it’s because they’re overwhelmed by their feelings and they don’t yet the ability to respond with logic, reason and flexibility.

Here’s where we come in. Our job is to respond in a way that helps children to learn about regulation. If we respond with sensitivity, compassion and calm, we help their brain learn how to do this too.

When we stop framing children’s emotional responses as “naughtiness” we can start focusing on helping them to learn how to process and manage their feelings.

Learning to process feelings and respond appropriately isn’t something that can be taught by telling children what to do or what not to do. Children learn how to respond in a calm and rational way when we do this with and for them throughout their early years. In other words, when we connect to them with love and understanding.

They only have what we give them to learn from. If we give them anger, frustration, guilt and judgment, that’s how they’ll respond too. If we give them empathy, kindness, calm and connection, they will learn how to do this for others and for themselves.