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Health & Parenting

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Why Your Child Acts That Way

By Elizabeth B. Krieger
WebMD Feature

Just when you think your child is capable of acting almost "adult," or at least more mature than they used to be, they do something that makes you wonder what they're thinking.

They stretch the truth, pretend they don’t hear you, or explode into tears seemingly over nothing. They tease and babble like they were still babies. Why? There are usually simple explanations and ways to head off these habits.


The lies may be little ("Yes, I made my bed!") to bigger ("No, I didn't hit my sister.") but you know that what you're hearing is far from the truth.

Why they do it: Because they fear the punishment; or because they have gotten away with it before and hope they can again; or because they don't want to disappoint you, says Michele Borba, PhD, author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.


This is good-natured ribbing of friends, siblings, and other family members -- not bullying.

Why they do it: Because it's fun and can make the teaser feel powerful, says Dawn Huebner, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Exeter, N.H., and the creator of the What-to-Do Guides for Kids series.

What to do about it: Help your child know when they're going too far and how to be sensitive to other people's feelings.

When your child teases someone who doesn't like it, take her aside and ask her how her comments are making the other person feel. "Boost their sensitivity skills by encouraging her to look at the other child's reactions and her facial expressions," Borba says.

Of course, if the teasing is clearly going too far, you should step in to make sure the kids are safe. Then take them aside to talk about what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

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