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acting out

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Definition: Many use this as a catch-all phrase for misbehavior. In reality, this is a psychological term that refers to how children in stressful situations express their feelings when lacking the necessary language skills to do so effectively. It may seem the child is just being disruptive, but often this is just a way of handling something that is otherwise too painful or confusing.
Examples:
Every time I get on the phone, my kids start acting out. It's like they have radar or something.

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