The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Consider your child's motivation - Part 4: Withdrawal

Friday, December 2, 2011

Consider your child's motivation - Part 4: Withdrawal

Adults have exhibited this form of misbehavior for generations -- quite literally!  You know them - the people who say they haven't talked to their parents for years becuase of an arguement they had when they were twenty-five.  Or then there's the classic case of the Hatfields and McCoys.  When people determine that they don't like another person, they decide that they don't need to talk to them - ever again!  Let's see how that works with children.

WITHDRAWAL - When I was a child, this was my favorite form of classic misbehavior.  My mother would yell at me for something I had allegedly done wrong, so I'd stomp up the stairs to my room and slam the door behind me.  I'd stay there for hours, sometimes through my mother's continued reprimands outside of my door.  But I was safe inside the sanctuary of my room.  Years later, that same behavior showed up when I had my own children.  We'd have an argument about something and I'd get in the car and leave for a while to calm down.  The car became my new sanctuary.  Perhaps this was more of a defense mechanism than misbehavior, but it's still considered mis-behavior because it's not what should have been happening.

Why is this considered misbehavior?  Because it's simply not emotionally healthy to withdraw from the situation.  Psychologists will agree that talking through a problem with another person is the best way to solve that problem.  Walking away solves nothing.  Counting to ten before opening your mouth definitely has its advantages in discretion, but total withdrawal from the situation is unhealthy and can lead to lifelong abandonment from family and friends.

Sometimes children just give up when they think they can’t get the attention they need. They may not do what you ask, or they may do it so poorly that you won’t ask them to do it again. They may offer excuses like “I can’t” or “That’s too hard.” They may simply withdraw from you or the family so that you won’t ask them to do anything. If you feel helpless or like you don’t know what to do, your child’s motive of misbehaving may be withdrawal.  Help your child to understand that he or she can always come to you with problems.  When they're teenagers, you'll be very glad for the open lines of communication!

Happy Parenting!

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