I just had to have this conversation with yet another adult, so I’m writing about it now. The “Bad”, “Annoying”, “Irritating”, <insert other adjectives here> child.
We’ve all met those kids…the ones that always seem to be causing a little more trouble…being a little more rambunctious…crying more…whining more…arguing more…hiding more…whatever it is about them that makes you say, “Ugh. I hate being around that child.”
“I hate that kid.”
“That kid is so annoying.”
“That kid drives me insane.”
“That kid is a brat.”
“That kid is bad.”
Operative word here.
KID. CHILD. INNOCENT.
You guys…I don’t believe in bad seeds. Yes, there is nature playing a part in who all of us are. But, the main culprit in a child being “bad” is nurture.
Now, let me clarify something here… this is NOT a “spare the rod, spoil the child” thing. This is about children who hurt…for whatever reason…and act out because of it.
Maybe they’re grieving. A death…a loss…a divorce…
Maybe they’re scared. Of losing people…of someone who has hurt them…of being unloved…
Maybe they’re confused. Too many adult situations causing emotions that their brains can’t process.
So…these bad feelings come out as “acting out”.
They cry. They yell. They have outbursts. They cling. They talk too much. They don’t talk at all.
They are REACTING to emotions that they don’t know how to carry and they don’t know who to turn to.
They can’t turn to whomever has caused these feelings. They can’t turn to other adults who may tell on them. Often, even if they could, they wouldn’t know how to say what they’re feeling anyway.
And now…these other adults who have labeled them as “a problem child” are also unsafe.
Seriously, many of my friends have seen me get upset when I hear an adult do this. Because…what if…instead of labeling that child as a problem…YOU decided to be the one who didn’t?
What if you talked to them?
What if you joked and had fun with them?
What if you made them feel special and loved and seen?
What if…by doing those things…YOU were the one who gave them a safe place where they could learn better behaviors and talk?
What if you saved them instead of being another nail in the coffin of their emotional safety?
You might find the most amazing kid under that “bad” or “annoying” shell…
The one who is just waiting for someone to see them and care.