• Kathy Whitham

Bad Behavior - SOS or Attack?



What if your child’s bad behavior is their best attempt to tell you what they need? If that’s true, then the way you respond has the power to build or undermine their self-esteem and felt-sense of safety in the world.


It was another of those weeks when 7 year old Ryan’s teacher had sent home a bad report for his behavior at school that week. One day he had been acting up so badly that all the other kids got upset with him (again). She finally had to send him to the principal’s office. (again!)


Over the weekend, Ryan was talking with his Grama, who’s raising him, about what happened in school and he said, “But Grama, the only way I can get a break is to be naughty. I have to be bad to get sent out of the room.”


The only way Ryan can feel better, when the overwhelm and anxiety he feels in the classroom get too much for him, is to escape by the only means available - to be naughty and get sent out.


It works.


And it helps him feel better in the moment.


But I believe it’s a coping skill that undermines his self-esteem and can hurt future relationships.


According to Dr. Wayne Dyer, If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. I believe the key to changing your child’s behavior is to first change the way you look at it. Seeing it as an SOS or the communication of a need, allows creative, compassionate solutions that can build self-esteem and life skills for thriving rather than just coping skills for surviving.


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