• Julie Cresswell

Tiny but powerful tweaks – One for when you’re faced with difficult behaviour.

You know those moments when you’re at your wit’s end with your child’s behaviour? When the pressure is on and the voice in your head starts telling you what a failure you are. The times when you feel like you should know what to do, but you haven’t got a clue and your stress levels rise exponentially. The more pressure you feel in those moments, the more difficult it is to stay calm and when you don’t stay calm neither does your child! Before you know it you’re stuck in stressful cycle of stress, meltdown and more stress. Perhaps it’s time for a tweak. What if the behaviour isn’t the problem? What if, instead, the behaviour is simply telling you there is a problem?

Parenting, detective, solve problems, difficult behaviour

When you’re faced with difficult behaviour it can help immensely if you can to remind yourself your job isn’t to “control” the behaviour. What your child needs you to do is put your detective hat on – to seek to pay attention, work out what the problem is and then help them to solve it. Shifting from seeing the behaviour as the problem to viewing it as telling you there is a problem means it’s much easier to connect with your child and help them know that you’ve seen they are struggling – so they know their message has been heard. From there you can begin to work towards:

a. Solving the problem together

b. Learning better ways to communicate when there is a problem so that shouting, screaming, hitting etc doesn’t have to be the way to get help – especially as it may cause more problems than it solves.

Sometimes that problem is as simple as feeling hungry or tired. If you’re repeatedly facing the same problem at the same time each week then it’s telling you something about your routine. Even if you can’t change that then you can avoid the failing parent self talk and focus on being understanding and supportive when your child is overwhelmed. Sometimes it’s much more complex and may take much more detective work – it’s not uncommon to find the behaviour actually has very little to do with your child and much more to do with what’s going on around them which is all just a bit too much. And if you are finding that you are lacking the energy and resources to do the detective work and teach your child alternative ways then that can be useful learning too. Maybe the real problem is that you are overstretched and maybe your wellbeing has been bottom of the priority list too long and that addressing that is what is really going to help with the flow of family life.

Helpful question, difficult behaviour, fresh ideas

This is why detective work can be so valuable. Charging into address the behaviour without doing the detective work can be a bit like turning off the smoke detector without checking why it’s gone off in the first place! When you get to the heart of what is going on you can find solutions which make a real and lasting difference. So next time you’re faced with difficult behaviour from your child instead of viewing it as a problem and trying to make it stop start with “What is the problem and how can I help?”

If you need a hand with the detective work then coaching is a great tool for this - perhaps a quick free 30 minute chat of a one off 90 minute intensive session might be help make the shift you need. To book a chat go to: Photo by Steven Wright on Unsplash

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