Behaviour Problems – Some suggested responses.

Does your child often display out-of-control feelings? (Temper tantrums, biting, physical aggression, over-excitement, uncontrollable crying, throwing things, etc…)

The first thing to do as a care-giver, is to ensure that the child see that you are in control, and not affected by his or her out-of-control feelings. Do not portray display anger or fear.

If possible, remove the child from the situation, but remain with the child. Assure the child that it is okay the have that feeling. Listen to the child. Let him or her know that you care. Stay with the child, and if possible, hold the child. Let the child know that you can keep him or her safe and that you will neither let the child hurt himself or anyone else, nor will you retaliate.

Do not allow unsafe behaviours. Ensure safe boundaries are set and maintained.

Teach appropriate ways to express feelings. Suggest that the child talks about it, express it through writings or drawings, have water or dough play, etc…

Developmental Problems – Younger behaviour, inability to carry out tasks or respond at the same level as most peers.

Demonstrate your desired outcome in concrete manners, repeat messages as often as necessary. Ensure you have the child’s full attention when conveying these messages. Use touch and maintain eye contact.

Maintain your expectations at the child’s level of capability. Do not give multiple tasks at one time. If necessary, break tasks into simpler steps, and praise the child upon achievement of each step. Give the child lots of chances to face success.

Regression – returning to younger behaviour

Treat the child according to the age he or she is acting. This may sound wrong, but even adults who are stressed or upset often regress and get extra nurturing and assistance they don’t usually need. In this same manner, children may need to be treated like a younger child for a short period of time, this would help them to feel secure. Move slowly forward, as the child is ready.

Attention seeking behaviour

Attention is the way children (and most adults) perceive love and care. A child, who is seeking but not receiving positive attention will act in a way to get negative attention.

Help the child feel special by giving positive attention which he or she is not seeking it. As the child becomes older, help him or her to ask for the attention they need.

Always remember that children need love the most when we feel they deserve it the least.

Battles for Control

Very young children should not have more than two choices at a time. They usually feel very powerless and need to be given simple choices and controls in their lives. When an adult feels they must win, it often results in resistance, stubbornness, anger and sometimes, retaliation.

Sometimes young children can be distracted, or two positive choices can be given. It is important not to insist on compliance over certain areas of training (e.g.: food, toilet) as this can cause ongoing problems. At certain times, withdrawing resistance will encourage the child to cooperate.

However when compliance is necessary (e.g.: safety reasons), do not give a choice or argue. State your reasons, and insist on compliance.

Remember, the aim is to help the child to learn to take appropriate control in his or her life, and not to win a battle.

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