As frustrating all these situations are, they are all rooted in the same place.
Your child doesn’t yet have the skills to solve problems.
And no number of time-outs, consequences or bribes are going to teach your child the skills they need to control their OWN behaviour.
They want to play with their toys, but now their parent, who they love and want to please, wants them to do something else – they have a problem of competing priorities.
And how do we feel when we have to do two things at once? When we have a problem of competing priorities – stressed.
Most adults have the wherewithal and emotional intelligence to stop their impulses, not overreact to a simple request or not drop to the floor screaming because things didn’t go to plan.
Your child does not see or experience the world like you.
Their brain is not fully developed till mid-twenty. So that means they don’t YET have impulse control, emotional regulation skills, planning, logic, reasoning… among others.
It’s your job as a parent to teach your child these skills.
And Here’s the honest truth: If you don’t support him to find a better way to solve problems then the behaviour you don’t like will persist. And it will escalate.
Language of Listening® the 3-step coaching model I use and teach supports you as a parent to coach your child to better behaviour.
It all starts from ‘seeing’ things from your child’s perspective so you can take them by the hand and guide them to better behaviour. Behaviour YOU like.
Let’s look at why certain behaviours happen and why.
Everyone has feelings of frustration, sadness, overwhelm, hopelessness, anger. But when your child hasn’t the tools to calm down, or even understand what he’s feeling, his feelings overwhelm him, and he acts out of his reactive brain. (don’t we do the same when we lose control and shout at our kids?!)
So, instead of handling his emotions your child has tantrums, throws things, slams doors and hurls insults at you.
Or maybe your child has difficulties changing from one task to another, or refuses to help round the house, he may find it hard to sit at the table, start his homework or clean his room.
Your child doesn’t yet have impulse control, they don’t know how to plan or set goals and recognise alternative actions or even anticipate consequences for their actions.
They don’t yet have empathy or understand the perspective of others, younger children don’t yet know what acceptable behaviour is and even if they do, they often lack the impulse to stop themselves.
So, a child who is having a fit because you asked them to come off screens, what skills do they need to better handle the situation?
The ability to calm down when he’s upset or frustrated.
The ability to move from one task to another.
The ability to work out how much time he has and what he can fit into that time.
So, a child who’s throwing toys even after you’ve asked him not to, what skills do they need to better handle the situation?
The ability to know the difference between emotions and actions
The ability of self-control, how to stop himself.
Know how to find alternative objects he can throw safely.
How to get positive attention from you in a way you LIKE
Now, I say this NOT to excuse your child’s behaviour. I say this for you to understand why your child behaves like they do AND how you can guide your child to better behaviour.
How to support your child to better behaviour
I like to think of teaching your child the skills they need as if you are teaching them to read or ride a bike.
We don’t just teach them the sounds of letters once and expect them to learn to read. We practice and practice, we break the task down, we encourage them.
We don’t punish them when they fail to read a page of a book, we don’t threaten them with no-screen time if they don’t.
We don’t stick up posters on the classroom wall to show our child’s reading improvement that day and judge them against others reading ability in class.
I wonder what different approaches you would use if you look at behaviour this way?
Language of Listening® gives you a simple framework to support your child to find their own solutions to their problems and brings out your child’s inner greatness.
Many parents I speak to want results straight away, and the allure of a quick threat or shouting at their child might get them quick results in the moment, but it doesn’t teach their children the skills they need to control their own behaviour. And that’s why they’re dealing with the same behaviour day in and day out.
Becoming your child’s coach and guiding them to better behaviour is a longer process. It’s annoying, but no wonder, when your child is stuck in their impulsive and reactive brain all your hard work seems to go out the window and your child is back to behaving in ways you don’t like.
It takes time and practice to change behaviour. Remember, with you as a coach your child will gain the skills to manage their own behaviour. You will have to work together to find solutions that work for you and your child and be there to encourage him and give him the space to make those changes.
Keep going. It’s oh, so worth it.
There will be moments when you feel that you’re not making progress, But, take my word, have confidence in your child, with your support and encouragement you will get to where you want to be.
It’s essential to pay attention to small steps in the right direction. Keep finding solutions and tweaking what’s working and what’s not. Keep practicing the skills your child needs to control their own behaviour and work together as a team.
As you support your child to problem-solve and coach your child to bring out their inner greatness, you will have raised a child who can find solutions to their own problems, have the skills they need to navigate life and you won’t have to spend time managing their behaviour for them. –and how much easier is that?
Want examples of the Language of Listening3-part coaching model? My brand-new downloadable phrase booklets have hundreds of examples so you are never left wondering what to say in challenging situations. Check them out here.