Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When Children Suddenly Act Up

By Christina VanGinkel

If you work outside of the home, travel a lot for whatever reason, or just spend a lot of time each week at your mother's / sister's / friend's, etc., and because of this, your young children are either packed up and dropped off at a babysitter's house, daycare center, or even brought along, they may suddenly act out. First, let me say that I am not against a parent working, or a child being sent to a babysitter. This is a fact that many people have to deal with. Even heading out each day to a friend's or family member's house can just be routine, and your kids may be just as fine with that, until one day they decide to rebel.

This is shocking to many parents when it occurs, but what many parents overlook is that kids, even young ones, can become stressed with the act of having to get up day after day, and head out into the world. They may be just having a bad day, or they could be not feeling well. It might even be something as simple as they have a new toy at home and they would rather stay home and play with it. I know I myself sometimes just do not feeling like getting up and going somewhere I know I have to, so how is it any different for a child? Sometimes, staying home just sounds better than wherever else it is we are headed too. Kids do not have the luxury of making this decision too often though, so they act out; throw a tantrum, fuss, cry, etc.

Because the reasons your child is suddenly acting up is most likely one of these, having sympathy and understanding for your child is of utmost importance. If they are old enough, talk to them if they are suddenly throwing tantrums, crying, or sulking when it is time to head out, or upon picking them up. Discuss with them exactly why they have to follow the schedule they are, and why it is that you cannot just stay at home each day. Give them the opportunity to tell you how they are feeling, and if they have any suggestions on how to make the situation easier. You might be pleasantly surprised at what they can come up with.

If they are too young to be verbally able to tell you what the issues are, you may have to work it out on your own. Even if you cannot figure out why there is a sudden mood change, still be both alert to it, and sensitive.

If they are at a new sitter's or daycare center, be especially alert to any changes in their attitude. Also, be sure to take note if they are at the same location, but if there are any new employees, or new children, that they might be having differences. Even kids that parents feel would tell them if something were causing them distress, might not. You are the parent, so it is up to you to take note of any changes along these lines that might point to a serious problem.

If in the end, you discover the reason for the change to be something you feel is trivial, remind yourself that to your child, that 'inconsequential' thing is most likely very important on the scale your child uses to judge things of importance. Consider what you can do to fix the situation, to make it at least bearable. Can they bring that new toy they are missing with them for the day? Do they have to sit next to the new child in daycare, the one who spits at them every chance they get? Talk to the daycare provider and be upfront with them about why your child is suddenly kicking up a storm every time you try to drop them off for the day. If they are small and teething for example, could you possibly, take a personal day to just stay home and snuggle? Whatever the reason things are not going as planned, take heart, that every parent goes through similar situations, and most of the time they are easily resolved. Until then, be patient, be alert, and tell your children that you love them, even more times than you already do!

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