As parents, we want our children to be obedient and display good manners. For example, we are happy when they follow our instructions, are polite during interactions with others, keep their room neat and tidy, and take turns in the playground. We do our best to ensure that our children learn good behaviours. But, despite parents' best efforts, some children turn out to be naughty.
But, what does the word naughty mean?
The article, ‘What is a Naughty Child?’, published in The Therapeutic Care Journal (2009) says, “It usually means that the child is exhibiting behaviour that adults find frustrating, irritating, confusing, annoying or even bizarre.”
Parents often find a naughty child difficult to deal with. At times, they do not understand the reasons behind their child's unacceptable behaviour. In fact, some parents feel so frustrated that they even resort to hitting or severely scolding their child to make her behave well. But, a better understanding of the message being conveyed by a child's naughty behaviour can make parents change their mind and appreciate their mischievous young one.
If you are also the parent of a naughty child, read on to understand what this behaviour may mean:
- A step towards independence: Ignoring advice and trying to do things their own way is a common trait in naughty children. While this may make you feel frustrated, you should remember that your child is growing up and this is his way of exerting his independence. Don't you want to raise a child who is an independent thinker and takes informed decisions? In fact, the ability to ponder, question the norm and bring about a change, are qualities found in leaders. Furthermore, remember that compliance and obedience do not necessarily have positive outcomes all the time.
- High level of energy: Instead of sitting quietly, some children prefer to remain busy by doing things around the house or going out to play. They have higher energy levels and may not always act in a manner acceptable to you. However, you should understand that children like to explore and interact with the world around them in ways that might appear naughty to adults. By accepting this and allowing your child the freedom to carry on with her 'naughty' activities, you will help her understand a thing or two about taking calculated risks.
- Curiosity and creativity: We have high hopes from our children — we expect them to become doctors, engineers, scientists, artists, sportspersons, astronauts, etc. Most naughty children are curious and creative, and intelligent. However, they also like to get their hands dirty. But, do you think your child can become an artist or a scientist or a sportsman without making a mess? So, before you scold your child for digging up the back yard or soiling the carpet or scraping his knee, remember it's your child's curious and creative side which makes him all that.
- Expressive nature: Gone are the days when children were told to suppress their feelings and keep a pleasant face at all times. Emotional quotient is a very important and sought-after quality in today's world. Accepting and expressing one's feelings is considered healthy nowadays. Making faces or being opinionated doesn't always mean that your child is crossing his limits — it could also mean that he is upset and expressing it to you. So, talk to your child and understand what is bothering him.
- Bold and courageous: It takes immense courage and the ability to withstand pressure to not fall in line and put forth one's opinion. Your naughty child is headstrong and assertive. While this may not make her a popular figure, you can certainly be sure that she will pursue her goals with determination.
- Humorous and quirky: Who doesn't like to have a good laugh. Witty remarks or entertaining answers to questions shows that your child has the ability to spread laughter and cheer. However, as your child grows older, her playful spirit will mellow down, and soon you may begin to miss it. So, enjoy the moment and cherish your child's unique personality.
- Trying to understand boundaries: Does your child seem to be naughty only when you're around and is he well-behaved with your spouse? As much as this is frustrating for you, it's also a sign that your child is beginning to understand the boundaries with each parent. In the process, his relationship with both his parents is becoming more clearly defined.
Your child is learning more about herself and the world around by pushing her limits (and your patience). This may seem naughty, but your child is just doing what she is supposed to do. Some degree of naughty behaviour is normal in children. But, if you find that your child is becoming increasingly disruptive, don't hesitate to check with a counsellor.
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