Managing Behaviour: What do you do when a child kicks off?

Tracey whose son, Ben is 9, told us “It’s hard trying to calm my son down when he’s had a meltdown. Often, it’s about reacting with the best of intentions but ending up giving ultimatums then standing behind him and bear hugging him to a safe space behind a door. I stand there for nearly an hour most times waiting for the yelling and crying to stop, thinking is he ok?…is he calm now?..is it safe to open the door? What else can you do?”

If that’s a scenario that seems either familiar or unfamiliar, let’s explore how you manage your own child at home.

Is it about following the guidance a professional has provided for you? The reaction techniques, the behaviour plan – do they work in the circumstances you might find yourselves or been abandoned as dismal failures?? Do you remember what they are?

More often parents tell us it is knowing what works for their child and hoping for the best. If whatever you can do works to calm the situation down that is the safest and most workable solution. Never mind if you as a parent are left almost in melt down mode yourself!

As parents, understanding your child’s wants and needs and the triggers that often accompany outbursts and tantrums makes you the most important holder of information and experience.

You’ll know how they react and how and when they calm down.

We know that we should try to remain calm and use a consistently reassuring but firm voice, for example, verbally reinforcing positive behaviours and applying consistent role-modelling behaviours ourselves that we’d like our children to emulate. Not to become stressed, appear in control and engaging, positive eye contact, smiling face and no raising of the voice.

But do we actually do that?

Let’s take a typical morning. Given the morning madness of getting the family ready for a school day, what do we have to juggle? Other children to organise…bathroom and brushing teeth routine…school clothes…school bags…healthy breakfasts (even unhealthy or none!) and everyone out the door in an orderly fashion…and what about getting into the car?! Holy smoke that can be an accident waiting to happen. Sound familiar?..those fingers tightly crossed hoping no-one kicks off? Can we really be expected to remember all the things we’re supposed to do on top of all that and be that perfect example we are told is required in order to improve our children’s behaviour?

I can hear the silent NO! It’s virtually impossible, isn’t it, especially when each child is different. We may have several children who struggle with understanding how things are meant to work. It may be that some children struggle to get a full night’s sleep. It may be that you struggle to get a full night’s sleep. So, where do you start?

Trying to imagine what it’s like supporting a family that includes children with special needs is really difficult because each family’s story is their own. It can be really isolating for mums and dads at the end of their tether. You can easily begin to doubt your ability, your sanity, your capacity to cope. Often the circle of friends you had around you aren’t able to fit into your life as much. Your child needs so much individual support and attention there’s no time for you to meet someone for a coffee or have a night out. What about the friends or acquaintances that slowly disappear because they seem to view your child as difficult and don’t want their children to play with them or invite them around to play together?

Your child often demands your presence almost 24/7 as part of that essential routine that helps him cope with the pressures of getting through a day without incident.

With all these competing practical and emotional demands, it is no that wonder everyday life can be overwhelming and we end up doing things and get into situations and routines that ‘kind of work’ rather than being able to get to a point of being comfortably confident in how things work for you and your children at home.

We are setting up a number of sessions for parents across Scotland this year which might help you understand a bit more about the latest techniques you can use to more effectively manage behaviour at home.

The programme is designed to give you insights into the psychology behind behaviour and understand the impact of situations for children whose brains are wired just that bit differently.

We’ll help you explore your individual situations and you’ll leave with a handy set of practical techniques and basic skills to build on at home. Plus, you’ll be with others who understand what it’s like. We’ve got lots to share!

It’s important that we look to the ‘family’ (whatever shape that might take), not only the child – after all, it’s you and the people around your child that will always be the main source of love, care, communication and education for them. You can become more in control of your family’s future wellbeing.

If this sounds like something that would help you, please register your interest today – the spaces will fill up quickly. We’d be pleased if you’d like to send us your story – we’re here to help but also to share what works for families with other families.

One thought on “Managing Behaviour: What do you do when a child kicks off?

  1. It’s great that you are developing programs across Scotland.
    As a behaviour therapist in Dundee I would love to find out more
    and share what I can to help families. Please feel free to get in touch
    anytime 🙂

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