“Misbehavior” Is How Children Express Fear and Confusion

CTAHR’s Center on the Family offers parenting tips during lockdown

“Misbehavior” Is How Children Express Fear and Confusion

The pandemic is creating stress, keeping everyone in close quarters, and curtailing opportunities to get help and take a break from parenting. According to experts, all of these factors add up to a potential spike in child abuse.

Center on the Family director Barbara DeBaryshe was interviewed for a UH News story on how to keep domestic life on an even keel during the crisis. She suggests keeping a consistent routine, which is comforting to keiki; giving kids a role in contributing to family life, like helping to cook or care for pets; making sure to get physical activity; being loving and cuddly; making sure to maintain social contacts by phone or Zoom; and, last but not least, making sure to take care of oneself as well.

Barbara counsels, “Ask for help. There is no shame in feeling at the end of your rope. Talk to your friends. Talk to your family members. Call a help line if needed.” If necessary, parents should leave the room until they feel calmer.

It’s also important to understand the cause of what seems like disobedience or naughtiness. “Your child’s behavior is not misbehavior, it’s a signal. It’s communication of their fears, feelings of loss or confusion. So as much as you can, stop and think about your child’s perspective.”

This crisis can also be an opportunity. “We have a lot of time together now, which gives us a chance to learn more about each other, to strengthen our bonds and really reflect on our priorities and values. We all have the potential to emerge from this crisis even stronger than we were when we started.”