Why Do Children Blame and Slash Out?
When we’re unhappy, we have a natural tendency to lash out and blame others for our misery. Most of us learn to control our nearly instinctive emotions as we get older, but we all know people who appear to live their lives with a “chip on their shoulder,” blaming others and responding violently to perceived or actual slights.
What exactly is going on here, and how can we assist our kids (and ourselves) get out of it?
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When a mammal is in crisis, it goes into one of three modes: fight, flight, or freeze. So, if your child walks on a toy and it hurts, she is distressed and goes into “fight mode.” She lashes out or even tosses the toy at whoever is nearest to her.
Or something occurs to her that causes her pain. She’s in anguish once more, so she goes into “fight.” She screams angrily.
She isn’t doing this to make others feel as awful as she feels. She isn’t even thinking about others at the time. She can’t think clearly or access her empathy while she’s in “fight, flight, or freeze.” She’s striking out because she can’t stand the pain, fear, and despair she’s experiencing. She becomes angry in order to fend them off. It’s a pre-programmed, automated answer. For the time being, it appears that the best defence for her is a solid offensive.
When we consider our own inclination to hit out in the face of fear, disappointment, or grief, we can understand how common this is.
- We almost run a red light and shout at our kids for causing us to be distracted.
- We get a parking penalty and blame it on our shopping companion for taking so long.
- When someone we care about passes away, we become angry with the doctor.
So our childrens tendency to blame her sibling when she’s unhappy isn’t all that unlike our adult tendency to blame others when we’re upset. Hopefully, as adults, we will be able to recognize our tendency to blame and bite our tongue before launching an assault. Those negative emotions will pass through us and fade if we can allow ourselves to feel the discomfort while resisting the impulse to act on it. Once we’ve regained our composure, we frequently realize that our first inclination to blame someone else was unjust.
However, because their prefrontal brain is still growing, children do not have the same ability to self-regulate as adults. So, how can you teach your child not to place blame on others in these circumstances?
Help Children Learn Not To Blame Others
Maintain your composure
It feels like an emergency to her. Your calm demeanour signals that there isn’t a crisis, and she doesn’t need to go into “fight” mode.
She is in pain, whether it is in her foot or in her heart. Recognizing this will make her feel more understood, less alone, and less like she’s in danger. Bypass her anger and respond to the hurt or fear that is causing it, she will get a deeper understanding of her own emotions: “Sweetie, I’m sure that hurt! Ouch!”
Do not retaliate
Your kid is attacking to protect herself from the anguish she is experiencing. Picking a quarrel is a method for her to unload the anguish somewhere else so she doesn’t have to experience it. Don’t fall for the ruse. Instead, if she responds, “It’s your fault!” you may add, “You seem disturbed…” That must be really painful.”
“Right now it feels like everyone else’s fault, doesn’t it?” you may remark if she’s assaulting her sister. Your foot must be in excruciating pain. Instead of blaming your sibling, let’s help your foot. “Can you tell us what we can do to treat your bad foot?”
Take responsibility as a role model
Instead of blaming someone else, your objective in this circumstance is to assist your child accept responsibility for walking on the toy. So, in whatever tiny way you can, model accepting responsibility. When she says, “It’s all your fault!” you may answer, “You wish that toy hadn’t been there.” Yes, I agree! That did a lot of damage to your poor foot. I wish I had seen this coming and gotten the toy out of there before it happened. I’m sorry you were injured.”
You’re not putting the blame on yourself. You’re assisting her in not blaming herself or others. When we step into the tale and demonstrate accepting responsibility, the healing process in children is aided.
“That truly injured your foot…,” you may tell your child later when she is no longer in pain.
It’s no surprise you were outangerd…
But I believe you wounded your brother’s feelings when you told him it was all his responsibility. I understand it’s his toy, but he cares about you and would never injure you. I’m curious as to how you might improve (growth mindset) relations with your brother right now.”
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