The Illogical Use Of Logic With Children

by : Bryan Post, Phd

Can you recall when you were a child doing something that caused your mother or father upset? Considering the transgression was not too offensive, most likely, you received a lengthy discourse as to why it was quite irresponsible of you to take the actions which were taken. To the same point, do you remember any of those lengthy, passionate lectures given to you by your parents? Most likely the answer is a resounding, “No!" Research into brain activity as it relates to stress informs us that in times of high stress, our thinking processes become confused and distorted, and our short-term memory is suppressed. With this being the case, allow me to make a point which may save both you and your child many periods of frustration. First, children act out when they are stressed out. It’s very simple, when your child does something that you are certain he knows better than doing, his actions are stemming from stress. He is experiencing more stress within his brain and body system than he can tolerate at that time. Thereby, his actions are an indication of his feelings. The same can be said for adults. We are more likely to yell at our spouse, kick the dog, drive too fast, and yell at the traffic, when we are experiencing more stress than our brain and body system can tolerate. Think about it for a moment. Won’t you agree that 80-90% of the time your child makes fairly solid decisions? Even at this moment, consider that your child is probably not lying, stealing, hitting little sister, or harassing the dog. No, most likely he is watching television, engaging you in talk, playing with friends or doing homework. The point is, most of the time, when children are not experiencing overwhelming stress, they behave rather well.

Ask yourself these questions, “What if, when my child is acting out, he’s doing so because he is stressed out? How might I respond to him differently, in a way that will cause him less stress?" When you’ve honestly considered those questions, now consider a time when you were punished as a child, “Were you stressed in that moment? What might your parent have done differently had they been privy to that insight? How differently might the situation have turned out?" Do you really believe that twenty minute lecture is fully comprehended? We lecture our children because we were lectured to as well. Mostly, we lecture our children because we, too, become stressed out, thereby, leading us to use what we consider logic with our momentarily illogical children. If you are using logic with an illogical person, what does that make you? Stressed out!Copyright? 2006 Dr. Bryan Post. All rights reserved.