“Why did you do that?”
The longer you have children, the more often you’ll ask that question. Why did your child decide to color all over your white walls with crayons? How did they think they could make a 5 foot leap from your couch to a chair on the opposite side of the room? What were they thinking when they shoved a bug up their nose?
A child’s mind is a mystery, but it is possible to understand them better. By analyzing their behaviors, it’s possible to understand your child’s thoughts, choices, and actions. Once you have a better grasp of why your child acts the way they do, you can help them grow and thrive.
Understanding Your Child: Observation and Communication
In order to be able to understand your child, you need to take time to observe them and really pay attention to what they are doing and saying. Often, we are so busy that we don’t take time to just sit and watch what our kids do, however, simply watching how your kid plays, eats, or does chores can clue you in on their thought process.
If your child is old enough, open communication is another way to better understand your child. Even if your child only knows a few words, you can have a conversation with them with the hopes of understanding them better. Just be sure to not make assumptions about what they are saying or jump to conclusions. Listen to what they say, ask clarifying questions, and make sure both you and your child understand what is being said.
If you are experiencing extreme difficulty understanding your child and why they act the way they do, psychological testing could be what you need. These tests can help diagnose mental or learning disorders, and also simply identify areas where a child needs to grow and improve. With the help of a psychologist, these tests can be a great way to better understand a child and give parents guidance on how to help them grow in the future.
Then, as you feel like you come closer to your child and better understand why they act the way they do, you can begin to make plans on how to encourage them to grow. Remember, every single person is unique, and how you raise and nurture your children could vary drastically from somebody else. There is no perfect way to raise a child — you need to make your own plan for each kid.
As you observe and understand your child, you might pick up on habits or interests they’ve developed. Maybe they can spend hours coloring, tapping away at toy drum, throwing a ball, or playing dress up with their favorite doll. Or maybe you’ll pick up on activities they try to avoid doing, like reading or playing outside.
With these insights, you can foster your child’s growth toward healthy hobbies and help them develop skills they need to succeed at life. If a kid loves coloring, get them an art kit, enroll them in an art class, and encourage the love to grow. But, just because your child loves art doesn’t mean you shouldn’t encourage them to try sports or other activities.
A well-rounded and healthy child should have a variety of experiences growing up, especially in their early years. Different activities promote matching skills and behaviors. Learning to play the piano has very different benefits from playing team sports. Both are important, with each kid learning important life lessons and skills in each activity, helping round them out as a person.
Encouraging your child to grow isn’t just about activities. Teaching a child compassion, how to share and work together, and learning how to communicate all start at an early age and need to be developed. Simply talking to your child regularly and having open communication can really help them learn how to handle their emotions and how to be a good person.
Adjusting Their Environment
Kids need a safe and loving environment in order to grow and develop. An environment is more than just a room or your house, it’s everywhere and everything about your child’s life. It’s their home, their friends, what school they go to, what parks and playgrounds they go to, and how people generally behave in the region. All of this influences a growing child, and if something is harming or negatively influencing your child, a change needs to happen.
Start by examining your home, as that’s the environment your child will become the most familiar with. Are there any risks or dangers present, especially physically? Remove or change them to help your child be safe. Next, look for negative influences on your child. This can be: inappropriate tv shows, family or friends who set a bad example, hostility or bullying among family members, or even an unclean home. Try to adjust your home and those in it to help create a good environment for your children.
Ideally, your home should be a place of peace, fun, and happiness. Do whatever is necessary to accomplish this for your family. For some, they use essential oils to help their kids relax, others use soft classical music, and others simply make sure their kids are playing and happy. Your home doesn’t need to be a zen den with absolute silence, just make sure your kids are comfortable and content.
Understanding your kids isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort. It can lead to a better relationship with your children and help you know what they need from you as their parent. You’ll be able to foster and encourage healthy development and know what they need in their home and environment to feel safe and comfortable.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her @ataylorian with any questions or suggestions.