Our Little Bystanders
Those young innocent eyes are daily observing our every move. As parents, we have been given a great responsibility in raising a child of the Most High. A portion of this responsibility is to maintain and demonstrate a righteous self-figure for your child to take note from. In the world more and more of our children are being diagnosed with behavior disorders. Aside from the doctor’s diagnosis, has anyone thought as to why the child is showing signs and symptoms of some type of behavior issues? What is taking place in life that causes a child’s behavior to act as if they are withdrawn or uninvolved, depressed, clingy, winey, angry, aggressive, or violent? As parents, the very first place we should examine is our home and even ourselves.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” ~2 Corinthians 13:5
At home many things take place that a child is witness to. Acts like arguing or disagreements that are not handled with decency and order between the two parents or an adult member and parent. Of course there will be disagreements, but how the disagreement is handled is what our little bystander witnesses. Will it blow up into an argument of raised voices, will there be verbal unpleasant words exchanged, or worse become physically violent? If so, the child’s mental can be affected and cause a drastic change in their behavior.
“A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” ~Proverbs 15:1
- Kat often overhears her mother and grandmother arguing. She felt sad about it and tried to cope by occupying her mind with other things such as television or music. She was usually glad when the fighting stopped.
- Timothy overheard his parents arguing. Sometimes he would get in the middle and tell them to stop. Sometimes he’d start acting silly and giddy. Other times he’d get angry and aggressive.
Both children are different. Kat is concerned but uninvolved. If her caretakers argue frequently or if there are many unresolved fights (and/or violence involved), she is at risk of developing behavioral or emotional problems. Timothy is already showing signs of disturbance. When a child intervenes into an adult argument, it is a sign that the argument is of long standing and the child is overwhelmed. His occasional giddiness is not happiness but physical arousal that he cannot control. He too is at risk for serious behavior problems as he gets older.
Please Note: When a child become physically aroused each child may behave in different ways like; being too clingy or winey, angry, aggressive, or sad.
Things to consider
Prolonged conflicts or unresolved arguments between parents are damaging to a child sense of security. It is not the arguing or yelling per se that is harmful, it is the child’s belief that his security is threatened and that his environment is not trustworthy
- Open hostility between parents is more likely to lead to behavioral problems in children than marital dissatisfaction without hostility.
- About one-half of all children fear when their parents argue.
- Children who witness spousal abuse engage in the same kind of behavior disturbance as do children who are victims of parental abuse.
- Children anxiety is immediately lessened once they believe that their parents have resolved their argument. If parents who argue are observed smiling and holding hands later, the kids will breathe a sigh and develop a sense of optimism that fighting won’t lead to disaster!
EXAMPLES: How to say it
If you think your child has overheard an argument you had with the other parent, Examine your child’s concerns and address them wisely. (Believing parents should know that strife is not acceptable Prov. 17:9)
- “I bet it made you worried or a little nervous.”
- “Maybe you felt a little afraid.”
- “I’m sorry you had to hear that. I’m sure it upset you.”
- COMMUNICATE. Let your child know if matters have improved. He doesn’t need to know the details, but he needs to know if the situation is resolved. “I know you overheard that argument. You’ll be happy to know that your father and I have settled our disagreements, and were not upset anymore.”
- “Sometimes your mom and I disagree, but we don’t stay mad for long because that is not right. We still love each other very much.”
- If your arguments remain unresolved, and especially if there is hostility, your child will feel insecure and at dis-ease.
EXAMPLES: How not to say it
- “That argument you overheard didn’t bother you did it?” Sometimes us parents ask leading questions, using subtle tones and body language to make our children respond the way we want to hear. If you really want to know how the child feels, make an EMPATHIC comment (“You must be upset over what you heard”).
- “I can’t believe your father!” Criticizing the other parent to the child will not alleviate his anxiety; it will heighten it!
- “Don’t look at me like that! I’m angry with you too. When was the last time you cleaned your room!” This is called the “spillover” effect, and adds to the MISERY. This will make the child blame themselves for the argument.
Adults arguing in front of children can be damaging psychologically to the child. It is improper and out of line. As Israelite mothers, we spend the most time with our children, therefore we are able to notice any slight change in the behavior of our children. This can be avoided if we examine ourselves often and we are upholding the law correctly. We have our father in heaven to represent. And with knowing this we as parents only should want the VERY BEST for our children. Our purpose is to raise them up as the Most High would want us to raise them, and be mindful of how we approach disagreements and misunderstandings. This reminds me of the saying… “What would Yahawashi (Christ) do?”
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” ~1 Peter 2:22
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” ~1 Corinthians 1:10