Why Nice Kids Act Naughty

You might think he’s try­ing to drive you nuts, but your kid’s mis­be­hav­ior prob­a­bly means that some­thing else is bugging him.

Parents (USA) - - Contents - By VICKI GLEM­BOCKI / pho­to­graphs by PRISCILLA GRAGG

Out­bursts are of­ten rooted in seem­ingly un­re­lated is­sues. Get to the bot­tom of those and you’ll be bet­ter able to calm your child down.

MY 9-YEAR-OLD daugh­ter, Drew, seemed pos­sessed. I sim­ply couldn’t come up with an­other rea­son for her fre­quent freak-outs. For fourth-grade math, she had to prac­tice the mul­ti­pli­ca­tion ta­bles for ten min­utes a day us­ing an app. The dig­i­tal re­wards for the task were funny-look­ing mon­sters—as close to Poké­mon Go as an ed­u­ca­tional tool could get. When she first played the game, she de­clared it “su­per awe­some­ness.” But ev­ery evening, as her dad and I cleaned up din­ner, she’d sit at the kitchen ta­ble with our tablet and kick and scream about how stupid math is. Play­ing the game as an as­sign­ment trans­formed her into a de­mon child. It made no sense.

I tried to per­suade her with logic: “If you’d put your mind to the work in­stead of com­plain­ing about it, you’d be done by now.” This only made mat­ters worse. “Are you say­ing I’m stupid?” she’d yell, storm­ing out of the room. I’d re­as­sure her, then re­di­rect her to the ta­ble. Once. Twice. By the third time, my pa­tience was shot, leav­ing be­hind only my al­ter ego, known not so af­fec­tion­ately around the house as “The Mom­ster.”

“If you don’t get this math done, you’ll spend the week­end in your room!” I’d threaten. Fi­nally, she’d give in, growl­ing at me the en­tire time. But at least it was over—un­til the next night.

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