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Why does my child do that?

By
WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

We like to think we know our children but sometimes they act in a certain way and we can't work out why.

They may lie, ignore or interrupt us and show off or tease their siblings.

Children may be testing boundaries and learning right from wrong.

Here's a look at some of the reasons behind this normal childish behaviour:

Tell tall tales

Children often fib or lie. They may be little white lies "Yes, I ate my packed lunch" to the bigger, "No I didn't hit my brother". Either way you know that they're not telling the truth.

Why they do it

Generally children lie to avoid punishment or because they want praise. If they are younger they might not even realise they are lying, it's just the case of an overactive imagination.

"Younger kids sometimes believe what they are saying," says parenting and wellbeing coach Naomi Martell-Bundock, "but other times they fib because they are scared of being told off."

Parenting expert Karen Doherty says: "They may want our approval, they'll tell us they're doing better at school or sports than they really are because they want to impress us."

She says they may also lie to either protect others or to get others into trouble.

What to do

Make sure your child knows that it's wrong to lie. Tell them that you'll be more upset with them for lying than for whatever misdemeanour they are trying to avoid punishment for. Explain that you love them however well they are doing at school and that they don't have to lie to gain your approval or love.

Ignore us

You can be calling your child's name over and over again and there's not a flicker of response. What's all that about?

Why they do it

They may be so engrossed in whatever they're doing that they honestly don't hear you or they may be choosing not to hear if it's something they aren't keen on listening to like "Tidy your room".

Children ignore what we say if we aren't firm in following through with our intentions. They realise they have every chance of either postponing the inevitable or getting away without doing what we say altogether, says Karen.

They may be choosing to ignore us to punish us for something, a form of passive-aggressive behaviour.

What to do

Get their attention before you speak. Naomi says: "Go up to your child and touch them on the shoulder from the side so they know you want their attention."

She says ask yourself are your needs more important and pressing than their needs? Do you really need their attention?

Be steadfast. If you have asked your child something directly make sure they know you will follow up your request. So if you have asked them to turn their music down and the request is ignored, pull out the plug or take away their MP3 player.

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