It's A Jungle

It's a Jungle

Bad behaviour is not acceptable but everyone will do jungle behaviour at some time in their life; a line gets crossed. The important key is how we respond. Do we develop a way to settle and no longer do this, or do we go with the instinct to Come out Fighting and reinforce the battle over Whoever Does It Best Wins?

Jungle behaviour is the body’s natural response to danger but can also be triggered by emotional overload. It’s a primitive response that follows the LAW OF THE JUNGLE but in social interactions, that’s not how the world works. It’s just the default option that keeps getting triggered until we grow up and develop a more civilised response.

Children enter the jungle because they have no idea of how to manage their emotions. They aren’t born with self-control so they have to learn and develop it over time. Until we teach them a better way, big emotions will overload their threshold for coping. Whether it’s frustration, anger, disappointment, guilt, embarrassment or even excitement, big emotions can be overwhelming for anyone. Without thinking, we cross that line and release our inner monkey. 

As adults, we still have this primitive system inside us, and as parents, we know what it’s like to have a build-up of frustration and stress. We put a lot of love and effort into helping our children grow and develop. Our emotions are very closely connected with theirs so when they go Jungle , there’s a very fine line before we’re swinging through the trees with them.

Sometimes the call of the wild is obvious. Their fight gets loud or maybe even physical. Other times it’s not so obvious. They might tie us up with words and emotions. Whatever form the jungle behaviour takes, the key is to recognise it for what it truly is. Their emotions have overwhelmed them and they’ve crossed that line.

Limits, boundaries, rules and thresholds are all ways that our society tries to understand the lines we shouldn’t cross. Socially and psychologically, it’s important that we know the line and have ways to stay on the right side of it.


Teach them how to stay on the right side of the line while also learning how to recognise the jungle in your children and stay out of the jungle yourself.
Dr Brenda Heyworth is a child and family psychiatrist who’s transformed her knowledge and experience into a parenting approach …
Spreading the 'jungle' message through workshops and presentations for parents, foster carers, teachers, guidance officers and workplaces ...