It’s not easy to do when they’re hitting or biting or waking up ten times a night. When they’re failing classes they’re more than capable of passing. When they get caught sneaking out. When they’re acting like a jerk.
But still, you have to stop and think. Not about how angry they make you. Not about how you’re going to punish them. Not how you’re going to solve whatever problem this is.
You have to think about why. What’s going on with them? What’s going on in their head? Because there is almost always a reason. As we’ve said, a lot of times it’s because they’re hungry. But it could also be that they’re scared or depressed. Someone could be hurting them. You could have unintentionally provided a bad example.
Who knows, but there is a reason for it. And there is a logic to it. They’d love to explain it to you too, the only problem is that most of the time, they don’t understand it…and no one has bothered to help them try. So stop. Hold off reacting. Think. Practice empathy. Consider what it’s like to be a kid. Recall what you wish your parents had asked you at your lowest, most fraught, most confused moment. And then give them that courtesy. Give them that compassion.
See what happens.