"Children's behavior can evoke feelings of delight, aggravation, humor, confusion, satisfaction, and/or anxiety from adults." Often the words, "Where does he get it from?", "Why won't she listen?", or "When will they learn?" are heard by parents who can't seem to understand the behavior choices of a young child. Right there in that last part of the sentence is the key to the answer, the behavior choices of the child.
To adults this implies intent and purposeful actions. Let me show you by example a few things that are similar. Have you ever gotten lost because you drove down the wrong street and made it worse by the next turn you made. Did you mean to end up where you were or did you just make the best choice based on the limited information you had? Have you ever followed a recipe, and at the end said, "well, that is one I will never make again."
What happened? You are an adult and have far more information to go from and yet you didn't end up with a good result. Now consider that when dealing with young children they have extremely limited experience, are not good observers, and need to experience things multiple times to develop the cognitive connections and the skills to be successful.
Three key principles that impact a child's abilities and thinking are: Ego Centrism, Centration, and Irreversibility.
Ego centrism is the most critical factor as it relates to social interactions and behaviors. Young children can not consider their own view of an issue and someone else's simultaneously. Additionally for very young child they can not suspend their own at all to consider another child's view.
Suggestions for parents:
1. Talk with children about their feelings. Help them to label feelings that they might not fully understand or have words to describe.
2. Point out similar or contrasting feelings of other children. Direct them to see faces and match the emotion with the facial expressions.
3. Tell children how their behavior has affected you or another person.
4. Help children tell each other how they feel.
5. Remind children of their feelings in prior situations.
6. Tell children how their behavior has affected you.