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8 Natural Things Kids Do That We Tend To Falsely Perceive As Naughty


As a teacher, I’ve had the pleasure to work with children for some time. From that experience, I did manage to learn so many things about them (if you let them, they can teach you incredible things). The truth is, children do things differently – they see the world differently.

And this different way of seeing the world makes them act accordingly (and thus naturally). I came across an article in Psychology Today that speaks about some of their habits and I couldn’t help but notice how spot on these behaviors are among them.

I am talking about the things they do that we like to perceive as ‘naughty’ and ill-mannered. The truth is, most of us adults like to cure the children of a ‘disease’ called childhood, and this backfires badly.

We may have learned that we should not treat children like they are mentally incapable of understanding common sense, but we never managed to learn how to understand the world we have grown out of.

Here are 8 very natural things that children do that we like to perceive as naughty.

1. Uncontrollable impulses

Oftentimes parents expect that their children act like grownups before they have the chance to grow up. Many parents think that children are born with a fully functional self-control unit and that they should start using it as soon as possible.

However, you should be aware that children’s brains aren’t fully developed, especially when it comes to the regions involved in self-control, which become fully mature by the end of adolescence.

2. A lot of movement

This need to move around and run has little to do with being ‘naughty.’ It is a developmental need that needs to be paid special attention to. Instead of telling your kid off for running around the house or jumping on the bed, organize some physically engaging activities that involve the playground, cycling, or anything you know your child will love.

3. Playtime all the time

Children have a fierce need for play. Don’t be surprised if they like to make a silly game out of everything – especially when you are in a hurry. In fact, most of the ‘bad’ behaviors we see in the children are, as John Gottman explains, ‘bids’ for you to engage in playing with them.

So, if you want your child to behave when they’re supposed to make life easier for you, make sure you ‘behave’ as well and have some playtime with them throughout the day.

4. Being overstimulated

To achieve a normal balance in every aspect of your child’s life is paramount. Such is the need for balance between ‘uptime’ and ‘downtime,’ which, if disrupted, can cause children to ‘misbehave.’

Your children can call for attention when they don’t receive enough playtime, but it can also be that too much stimulation makes them feel overwhelmed and they start acting naughty. Your children need games and they also need to take a break from games and rest for a while.

5. Wired to become independent

It often happens that you start debating with your child whether the weather is appropriate for shorts or pants, and your child has already set their mind on shorts. Of course, the list can go on for miles here, if you start adding their courageous hairstyling feats and whatnot – but there’s a simple explanation for this behavior.

Every child is, as Erin Leybaputs it, “developmentally-wired to resist and become independent.” Their decisions are their own to make and they are just following the natural course of one’s development through deciding and acting independently, even when that doesn’t agree with your ideas.

6. Core conditions

If you know how it feels when you’re angry because of hunger, or tense because you need sleep, then imagine the tenfold effect children experience from these “core conditions” of being thirsty, hungry, tired, over-sugared, or ill.

When these conditions kick in, children find it very difficult to control their behavior and emotions, and they start acting differently (but accordingly). In the presence of such strong needs, it’s natural that they won’t always manage to communicate the message loudly and clearly the way you want to hear it.

7. Reaction to inconsistent limits

If you asked your child what they wanted for dinner but the next dinner you informed them of what they were going to eat without giving them choice, don’t be surprised to see them react. Here the list can go on, and the main issue is the inconsistency in the rules you’re applying to them.

Kids know how to accept rules easily, but the main problem becomes evident when these rules magically change for no particular reason. Being incongruent or setting double standards will make your child show protest and dissatisfaction because they want to know what to expect (and they really need to).

8. Affected by the parents’ moods

In the end, it’s not always that children can have a say in the way they’ll feel and act – mainly because of emotional contagion. It takes milliseconds for emotions to spread throughout the room and affect the rest, and this is especially true for children picking up on their parents’ negative moods.

So, when you are under great stress, down, distracted, or frustrated, expect that your children will start emulating these moods. The same goes when you are calm, centered, and relaxed. You are their role model, and they can’t help being affected by your emotions.


So, don’t dub your child ‘naughty’ the minute they do something you might not approve of. You have a child next to you, not an adult. If you want them to ‘behave’, then perhaps you should ‘behave’ as well and understand their world a little bit better.


Source: Psychology Today

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