Stop Assuming Bad Behavior On Your Special Needs Child

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

As a mom of many years, to two special needs kids, I am incredibly supportive of many different "styles" of parenting. In fact, I don't subscribe to one "type". I don't even believe in subscribing to a type, honestly. I believe in parenting in a loving way, that is most beneficial for your child and yourself.

Two photos of a curly haired little girl in a blue and black dress. The photo on the left, she looks concerned and upset. The photo on the right, she is happy and standing in front of Ariel's castle.

With that being said, there are some things that just are not helpful. For anyone. One of those is this issue... assuming bad behavior.

We've all done it, I guarantee. Especially when you do have a child who has frequent meltdowns and tantrums (two different things). There are moments when it is hard to not think that your child is just behaving badly or "acting up".

But, for a moment, I want you to consider the "why" behind those behaviors. Think back to a time when you looked at your child, and thought "Geez, they just won't stop". Consider those words...that line of thinking..

"Won't stop."

A little girl in a blue dress, hiding under a table.That implies something, right? I'm a firm believer in the importance of the words we choose. Words can make or break. Words have the power to begin and end wars. Words have the power to build or tear down a human. Our words become the inner voices of our children. Saying that someone won't stop a behavior, implies that they truly have 100% power over what they're doing and experiencing. Maybe they don't...

Growing up and even in adulthood, I have had many moments when I was falling apart, and wanted to stop, but couldn't. I've watched as my kids needed to stim, cry, scream, run, hide, or a number of other behaviors, and didn't want to, but needed it. Like how sometimes you just need a good cry... Special needs children, sometimes, need to release their anxieties. It's not about a want. It's a need.

We are living in a time where people are becoming more aware of the need for mental healthcare, self-care, and just being more sensitive to the emotional and mental needs of others. However, when it comes to children, that so frequently gets ignored. Why? Maybe because they're small and everyone makes jokes about how ridiculous their behavior is. But kids are still real humans, with real emotions, and real worries. Those worries may not seem like much to an adult, but for a kid, they are. They need to be considered.

Special needs children who are "acting up" or "behaving badly", have more going on. Perhaps they're anxious or scared. Perhaps there are too many noises or people. Perhaps they are anxious over a change of routine and need help with self-regulating. Perhaps they are just over-exuberant and got too rough with another kid (my nephew does this). Perhaps they thought they were just playing around, and accidentally hurt another kid (both my kids do this). Perhaps they just need a calming voice to assure them that they are okay, because they don't feel okay.

A little girl with space buns, wearing sunglasses and standing in a sassy manner.

There are a lot of reasons for a special needs child to act out, and sometimes, you've just got to figure out the "why" to it, to properly help. But that should be the goal. Helping them. Helping them calm down. Helping them understand. But, definitely, the goal should be to help. Because they are different, and need that support.

They don't need to feel like they are a burden.

This simple change of a mindset can really open a path to calmer parenting. To more understanding for you. It can open the path to better.. for everyone involved.

Please, stop assuming special needs children are just behaving badly.

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