I sometimes wonder if little kids books are really meant to give important lessons to the adults who are reading them to their children.
Tonight, I read Read to Tiger to my son. It's a cute little story about a boy who is trying to read a book and the tiger behind the couch keeps doing things to get his attention. He dresses up like a bear and says "roar", he blows a whistle while he plays with the boy's toy train and each time the boy yells at the tiger to please keep quiet and the tiger listens meekly and will try to behave. This keeps happening until the tiger takes a peek at the book and sees a picture of another tiger, gets excited and asks the boy if he can read the book too. So together, they snuggle up on the couch and finally everyone is happy. The boy can read in peace and quiet and the tiger is being entertained with something that keeps him interested.
This gave me a lot to think about. How many kids and teens are just like this little tiger? Searching for attention. Needing to be noticed. Craving a hug. Waiting for someone to listen. But the people who matter to them, the people who they are looking towards for just a few minutes of their time are too busy trying to read their book without any distractions...and it gets too noisy and they yell...can't you just keep quiet and keep to yourself instead of getting in the way?!
When a kid starts acting out, making any kind of noise, it's happening for a reason. The kid is trying to get you to notice them and take interest in them and see what it is they need so badly.
The kid wants you to "snuggle up on a couch" with them and read a book together. They want your time, your attention, your love and they want you to listen to them.
Teens who are acting out are doing it for a reason. They need something. They need someone to listen to them. Girls in high school have a lot of questions. They can get the answers if they are listened to by someone who cares. But if they are laughed at and ignored or worse-put down, they can start going down, downhill...
This is an important tool in chinuch with even the youngest children. When my son starts throwing toys (What? He does that? YES!), he does it for either of two reasons. Either he is so tired that it's the only thing he could do at the moment-throw anything and everything in sight. Or he wants attention. He wants me to stop making supper, cleaning up, texting (ahem) and sit with him on the floor and play with some toys or sit on the couch (way more comfortable :) ) and read a book together.
We all have that little tiger inside us-a part of us that craves love and attention. There are both positive and negative ways to get it. Not all people want to take the time to figure out and work through the positive ways of getting proper recognition. Sometimes it's easier to misbehave, to act out, so other people will notice them. But then they may get pushed away, further and further...They get noticed for a minute but are not wanted around. And so they'll try again...until they realize that just like in the story, when people come together and recognize each other for what they can contribute together as a team, they'll feel loved, they'll get the positive attention they need and they will feel happy.