Is Studying The Behavior Of Children Crucial For Parents?

General News | Jan-14-2022

Is Studying The Behavior Of Children Crucial For Parents?

It is biologically normal for little ones to want to stay close to their inner circle of people; to use their parents as a “haven” when around unfamiliar others. It is developmentally inappropriate to expect a little child to be entirely comfortable around people they don’t yet have a relationship with. If a child takes time to warm up with new people, it is an attachment in action. In times like these, it is the role of parents to act as a gateway to these new relationships for their children.

Such biologically normal behaviors aren’t recognized or valued by society. Instead, the children are labeled with fixed attributes such as “shy”, which can inadvertently influence parents’ opinion of their child and their opinion of themselves. However, learning child psychology gives an invitation to the parents, to reframe those attachment-driven behaviors of the child, and see them as “adaptive”.

As the child grows, the process of “individualization” starts to take place. He/she begins to see himself/herself as separate from the parents. As a result, they often start ignoring parents’ directions, refuse to do as they ask, say ‘no’ a lot, insist on doing things themselves, or even do the opposite of what was asked. As a parent, this can feel as though the child is “not listening” or “misbehaving”, but what is going on is a huge leap in development. The child is learning to think for themselves, to make their wishes, wants, and desires known. When the parents can hold this in mind- that it’s their child’s developmental task to assert their independence, then it can help them to recognize that this behavior is not “bad” but developmentally appropriate.

Child psychology also helps understand what the child might need at a particular point in time. An instance for the same could be when the child is in distress. He/she would normally go into a fight/flight/freeze situation. They would thrash or flee any comfort coming their way. In cases like these, the first thought of the parents would often be to cuddle or talk to their child. However, it is often the opposite of what they need at that moment. They don’t want to be alone, they just need their presence differently. This may vary for different children. Connection to them can be of various types:
1. Proximity
2. Eye contact
3. Physical touch
4. Verbal conversations
5. Facial expressions
6. Tone of voice
7. Gestures

Here, understanding the psyche of children can be an extremely crucial responsibility of parents. It helps them realize that “bad behavior” may just be a reaction to sadness, “tantrum” a reaction to disappointment, “silliness” a reaction to frustration, and “being reserved” a reaction to anxiousness.

To raise children who ‘speak out’, parents ought to give children the experience of ‘being heard’. Another factor in understanding child behavior for parents could be normalizing encouragement and showing interest WITHOUT evaluating or judging. Research suggests that praise (which also carries judgment and involves evaluation of the actions) that focuses on fixed attributes and innate traits creates a self-image in the child’s mind which is tied up in task outcome as a measure mindset. This has been linked to children who are afraid to try, and who give up easily when something is challenging for fear of judgment from others. They can struggle to persevere because their fixed mindset convinces them that, if they were smart, they wouldn’t have to try. Alternatively, if the encouragement focuses on the process (the child’s engagement with the task, their effort, their progress), then parents encourage a “growth mindset” which research links to a love of learning, perseverance, and increased intrinsic motivation.

Summing up, it can be said that a child’s emotions are high, behaviors are big, and temporary regressions are to be expected. Still, parents should keep talking to their children, keep giving them repeated messages of safety, and a sense of comfort. With the continuous shifts in the world, the child’s presentation of behavior would soon change as well.

By : Lairaah Mukherjee
Gaurs International School