Dr. Courtney Knapp

Child & Adolescent Psychologist Serving Orange County, California

Reframing your Child’s Behavior


I believe that as adults we sometimes get stuck in thinking that our children think like adults which is what leads parents to view their children’s acting out behavior such as defiance, talking back, and arguing as something their child is doing on purpose to make them mad or manipulate them. This is where reframing comes in. Reframing means to try to view something we perceive as negative in a more positive light. This is a great article that discusses viewing your child’s behavior differently. We can reframe anything from sitting in traffic to our child saying “no”. I think that when parents constantly view acting out behavior as negative they begin to feel angry and exhausted which leads them to parent less effectively. The view that your son or daughter is always trying to upset you can lead you to always feel upset with them and disconnected from them and also makes it harder to notice the positive times you may have together. I try to point this out to parents I work with and encourage them to view their child’s acting out behavior as “Sally is having a problem and I need to help her.” If a parent can view behavior differently they are more likely to parent from a calm place rather than out of frustration. Children may be little but they still deal with big feelings and sometimes their way of dealing with these big feelings means acting out. I suggest parents use reflections “you are really angry” to help validate feelings rather than constantly punishing for misbehavior. Consequences have a place, but the more tools you have available as a parent the more capable you’ll feel to handle difficult behavior.

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