Good parents know how to interpret behavior
- by Dr. James Dobson
Question: You have described the nature of willfully defiant behavior and how parents should handle it, but does all unpleasant behavior result from this deliberate misbehavior?
Dr. Dobson: No. Disobedience can be very different in origin from the "challenging" response I've been describing. A child's antagonism and negativism may emanate from frustration, disappointment, fatigue, illness or rejection and must be interpreted as a warning signal to be heeded. Perhaps the toughest task in parenthood is to recognize the difference between these behavioral messages. A child's resistant behavior always contains a message to his parents that they must decode before responding.
For example, he may be saying, "I feel unloved now that I'm stuck with that yelling baby brother. Mom used to care for me; now nobody wants me. I hate everybody." When this kind of message underlies the rebellion, the parents should move quickly to pacify its cause.