Kids that exhibit strange and unusual actions



Have you ever had a child exhibit behaviors that you couldn’t quite put your finger on what the problem was?

  • The child who acts out at strange times
  • The child who says something out of the ordinary and you don’t realize it until later in the day when you think, “That was a strange comment for him to make.”
  • The kid who runs, jumps or hops when everyone else is walking down the hall way
  • The child that stares into space and doesn’t appear to be listening
  • Child whose eyes dart back and forth; always looking around the room; they don’t appear to be able to focus their attention in any direction for any length of time
  • How about the child that exhibits a lot of health issues and is sick all the time?

There are many strange actions some kids exhibit. I’d like to ask you to think differently about those kids. You see many of these kids are reacting to a traumatic situation they have had in the past or are experiencing.

Personal experience

For years I ran a therapeutic childcare facility. Back in the early 90s when so much of the brain research came into childcare training I made the choice to change how we were working with and accommodating many of our children who were diagnosed with various mental health disorders. I had noticed long before that many of the same kids had health issues.

Illnesses are a clue

My staff and I knew many times a divorce was coming even before the other parent. We could tell there were family problems from the children’s illnesses – especially ear infections in infants and toddlers. This is not to say that every child who has numerous illnesses is experiencing a crisis or traumatic event but many times it is a clue they are living in a world full of trauma.

Too many kids on nebulizers

We implored much of Dr. Beckly Bailey’s techniques, especially breathing from the diaphragm. We began to see children calming down and also their nebulizers began disappearing. It was amazing because kids that had been on breathing machines and inhalers were able to run, jumpy and play for long periods without having an asthma attack.

Getting the parent’s attention

We worked with many of the parents. Sometimes it was a matter of actually getting the parent’s attention. Other times it was putting the parent’s needs aside in order to accommodate the child.

  • We helped the weak, distraught and abused mom get free from the abuser boy friend.
  • We called the police more than once when a parent would show up drunk or stoned.
  • We turned some into Child Protective Custody and then we begged the DHS (Department of Human Service) workers to leave the children in our care.

Fighting for the kids

One time I even went to my senator to get the state foster care worker to allow the child to stay in our program. I felt it was important for this RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) child that we had bonded with over 3 years to remain in our care when his mother was hospitalized.

We had a lot invested in this precious little boy and I was not about to let a state worker send that child into a tailspin! He was experiencing enough trauma just being in foster care and his mom in the hospital.

Church and childcare – the missing link

There are many avenues people in children’s church programs and childcare can employ to help these children. Society is missing a big part of the picture when we leave church, early childhood programs and childcare programs out of the mix in treating these situations.

  • Church groups, early childhood and childcare can be a child’s safe place in an unsafe world.
  • They learn quickly that if they can just make it through the night or the week that calmness and peace will greet them the next morning.
  • This is the place where loving and caring adults love them and protect them while they teach them life skills.
  • Or if they can survive the week, that sweet and nice lady at church will be there to greet them and soothe the hurts from the past week.
  • They can feel the God that will never forsake or leave them in this place called church.

Are you a church that just doesn’t know what you don’t know?

Maybe it’s time to educate your ministry workers and volunteers about the scars trauma can leave on a child. Divorce can be one of those traumatic situations that will leave deep scars.

Maybe you can become the Jesus voice and Jesus arms that cradles the hurting child and helps soothe and heal the deep wounds.



This article is updated and adapted from an article originally published on the Kids & Divorce blog on April 30, 2015.

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