When your kid is behaving badly, especially when that behaviour is hurtful or emotionally draining, it can be difficult to separate the child you love from the hurtful behaviour. But why is it so important to do just that? I asked Katherine Levine …
“In your book ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things‘ you make a distinction between the kid and their behaviour. Can you summarize this and why it’s so important?”
Columbine jumps to my mind as why not seeing kids as evil is so important. The two boys at Columbine were outsiders and viewed as evil or bad kids. That is a simplification, of course, but the fact remains they seemed to accept the label and sought out the “good kids” to shoot.
All of us, kids and adults struggle with being “good.” If a kid decides the struggle is hopeless, and accepts the label of evil or bad, he is more easily drawn into behaviors that can be called evil. Some seek to excel at being evil.
Every child is born capable of good and evil behavior. The thrust seems to be toward being good, but things can go wrong and often do. Separating the child from the behavior does not mean abolishing punishment. It means maintaining a compassionate relationship. That is why my CARING response ends with going on with your caring.