After a few days, the sticker charts are forgotten, your child has lost the use of the iPad again, and you’re left wondering what else to do.
It’s not your fault, because all our usual tools we’ve been shown assumes that the child needs motivation to change their ways.
This misses the true cause and that is why the battles endure.
I’m going to share with you what your child does need, and the easiest and simplest way to get your child to go to bed. Without the daily battles.
What I teach comes from Language of Listening® a 3-part framework I use and teach to parents just like you.
Here’s the thing that no one tells us:
All behaviours are driven by three healthy needs, and whatever children are doing is already meeting these needs.
Now, that doesn’t mean we have to LIKE our child’s behaviour or that we resign ourselves to unwanted behaviour. What that tells us is that the NEEDS driving all behaviours are healthy.
What I love about Language of Listening® is that it gives you a new way to understand why your child’s behaviour makes perfect sense, even if you don’t like it. Because only from a place of understanding can we make lasting change.
So, let’s look at the THREE NEEDs in greater detail:
The need to feel noticed, understood, validated and loved.
The need to feel confident in control of myself and able to make an impact on my world.
The need to use my body through experience and sensory exploration.
Knowing how to spot the three healthy needs behind any behaviour changes how you see that behaviour, which in turn changes how you react to it.
During the bedtime routine, notice what kind of behaviour your child is showing:
- You can spot the need for CONNECTION in a child who wants your attention, clings to you, acts up to get your attention, keeps getting out of bed, cries and fusses, wants to get into deep conversation just as the lights go out.
- You can spot the need for POWER in a child who is bossy, stubborn, demanding, refuses to do as you ask, loud, tantrums.
- You can spot the need for EXPERIENCE in your child when they want to play with you, jump, wrestle, play with their toys, build dens, make things, etc.
All of those things actually DO meet your child’s NEEDs, even though they’re probably behaviours you don’t like. Providing guidance with CAN DOs allows you to offer ways you do like for your child to meet their needs.
A “Can Do” is an alternative to the behaviour your child is currently doing that is okay with you. For example, your child is jumping on the sofa you can say- “Looks like you want to jump. You can jump on these cushions.”
It’s simply a way that the child can do something they want within your own boundaries. Don’t confuse this with going past your boundary. – A CAN DO is something your child can do that is still within your boundary.
Setting boundaries at bedtime is important. They need to know that bedtime is not negotiable.
To set clear boundaries and create win wins when using CAN Dos, it helps to be really clear on what your true boundary is.
For example, my boundary is made up of:
- My child has to get washed
- My child has to brush their teeth
- My child is in their bed by 7.30
Each and everyone of us has our own boundaries. Do what works for you and your family and what you like and want. Then HOW your boundaries get met, well the possibilities are endless.
CAN DOs help you to put your boundaries into action.
The difficulty many of us have with holding boundaries is that they feel mean. I wonder how your parents reacted when you went passed their boundary?
Traditionally, when a child pushes against the boundary, the parent responds with a rule like “Go to bed or no TV tomorrow.” Thinking that the child needs a deterrent to change their behaviour.
“But I don’t want to go to bed!” the child howls.
The parent response with, “If you don’t go to bed now, no T.V tomorrow.”
To which the child responses, “I don’t want to go to bed.”
And before you know it, the parent and child are in negotiations and it’s all kicked off.
The parent has two options, give in to the child’s demands or lose their temper. – this is the typical win/lose parenting model.
If you want to avoid the usual struggles our coaching skills give you a way to always be on your child’s side, helping them figure out what they CAN DO within your boundary, or helping them handle their feelings of disappointment by using Say What You See®
Your boundary is just the way it is, “It’s bedtime” and you put yourself on your child’s side looking at the boundary together, helping them figure out what they CAN DO.
Support your child to find healthy ways to meet their need.
First spot the NEED behind your child’s behaviour and then guide your child to meet that same need in a way you DO LIKE.
Ask yourself: “How CAN my child meet their NEED that is OK with me?”
Here’s a few examples. There are plenty of ways that your child can meet their needs in a way that works for you and your child.
Try what works and come up with solutions that work for you both. When you hand over the problem-solving to your child, you’ll be amazed at how creative they are.
If your child is trying to meet their need for experience:
Can they start the bedtime routine slightly early, so they have a chance to potter round their room, finish their Lego or drawing?
Can they set up an assault course in the sitting room and get the last bit of energy out?
Can you offer a fireman’s lift or play fight on the way to bed (which will also meet their need of connection)?
If your child is trying to meet their need for power:
Help your child to find things that they can control within your boundaries. Holding your boundaries while supporting your child to find a CAN DO, allows your child to practise stopping themselves and solve problems creatively, all which naturally helps them meet their need for power in a way you both like. If you’re dealing with a lot of explosive behaviour- read this.
If your child is trying to meet their need for connection:
Say what you see® is the first step of our coaching model. You literary say your child is doing, saying, feeling or thinking. To get access to hundreds of examples of Say What You See®, take a look here.The magic of Say What You See® is that it’s the quickest way to get your child feeling heard and understood. It’s only from a place of connection that your child opens up to your guidance.
When a CAN DO really does meet your child’s need just as well as the behaviour you don’t like, you child will find it easy to change their own behaviour.