My good kid has gone bad

February 6th, 2012

What happens when a good kid starts to show some bad behaviors?

Your child or a child you work with all of sudden starts to act out in ways you haven’t seen before. Maybe it’s a refusal to listen, difficulties with peers, acting out or being aggressive, shutting down and saying, “whatever”. You notice they have begun to have an attitude, maybe they are getting in trouble, or perhaps their teacher is worried.  It seems sudden and a bit random and you aren’t sure what’s going on.

Here are 5 ways you can use art and creativity to understand a child’s negative behaviors and teach your child some tools to manage their behaviors.

1.     Use art as a self-calming and self- soothing tool. Before your child becomes so overwhelmed and acts out or shuts down bring in some art activities. Choose art materials that are calming such as chalk pastels, markers, or modeling clay. Have a basket of calming activities to choose from and take an art break before your child loses control of their emotions. As a parent or teacher you want to notice what triggers your child and redirect behaviors before they become full blown meltdowns or shutdowns.

2.     Use art to understand your child’s point of view. You may think that things at school are just fine, but your child may not feel that way at all. Sometimes children have a hard time identifying or articulating what’s bothering them. Use piece of paper and markers or crayons and ask your child to draw a picture of their classroom; then ask them to tell you what they created and listen. You may learn about stressors and triggers that upset your child. Make sure you fully listen without trying to jump in and problem solve.

3.     Use art to understand your child’s perception of home. Ask your child to create a picture of your family together. You’ll learn about your child’s point of view of your family when you listen without interruption as your child shares what they created. This is a touchy topic for many parents. Be aware of your response. If your child explains things that you feel are “not true” be aware of how this triggers you and what your initial response is.  Your child will have a difficult time safely expressing their feelings if you become upset when they share. Be open, curious, and ask questions help you understand.

4.     Use art to solve the problem. If your child identifies problems at home or at school (if age appropriate) ask your child to make an image of what they could do about that problem. Remember that you are encouraging your child to express themselves, therefore, they may create a silly or “inappropriate” solution. Don’t lecture. Let them know that’s an option and ask them about other options they could choose, and come up with a bunch. At the end of exploring options together discuss the consequences of each option by asking questions such as, what would happen if you did that?

5.     Use art as a way to teach positive social behaviors. Sometimes a child has a hard time getting along with their peers and siblings. You can use art to sneak in teaching positive ways to behave socially. Set up some play rules and have the children/siblings work together on a common goal, such as building or drawing something. When problems arise, point out the rules and use it as a teaching opportunity. Use the experience to help identify and label feelings and work together to create solutions. Children will learn socially appropriate behaviors while having fun.

Got a child who quickly goes from happy to meltdowns in less that the count of 5? Then it’s time to teach them new coping tools to help them become aware of their emotions and behaviors. If you are in the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton, Venice Florida area and you would like more support we can help. Schedule a Support Consultation here.

If you don’t live in the area, don’t worry. I created parenting resources to help children and teens you can immediately download and implement to help your child.

P.S.- CQ disclaimer: The CQ believes that there’s no such thing as a BAD child, just BAD behaviors and these tools can help.

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