Something I have learned about challenging behaviors and the stuff that works is that parental involvement is absolutely essential. When parents are able to develop an understanding of their children’s behaviors and what those behaviors mean, they are better able to address and facilitate the necessary changes. At the risk of being repetitive, I am going to keep saying this over and over again; this really is a team effort. If you have a child with challenging behaviors it is so great to have a team to help you deal with that.
Myth #1 – One Size Fits All
The biggest myth that parents hold when it comes to parenting kids with challenging behaviors is that there is a single right way to deal with them all. As a parenting coach, I have come to learn that the one size fits all approach is simply just not true. There is no one set fix that will encompass all families and their children in their entirety. Let me give you an example. If a parent reads a book about parenting and tries the strategies in there without getting the desired results, they may give up. They begin to feel like nothing they do is making a difference so why try. As parents, we need to keep trying. We show our love and level of commitment to our children in doing so. Changes happen when we stay committed.
How we present a strategy or approach is what matters most. Is there a commitment to giving it a fair try? Parents who approach their kids respectfully and lovingly and can set bottom lines and limits from a place of respect. As well as parents who show commitment and who don’t give up because it takes effort and persistence. These will be the blissful parents. Therefore, if you are parenting a child with challenging behaviors, before you throw your hands up and say this doesn’t work, know that you may have to try a few different approaches before you find a good fit for you and your family. Know that effort is required and commitment and persistence over time are the noteworthy things that are going to bring about results.
Myth #2 – Attention
A lot of parents think that “Oh, my kid is just seeking attention”. Yes, that could very well be true. Your child might, in fact, be seeking attention. The word “attention” is what I would like to focus on for a minute. All behavior no matter the size of the person is done for a reason. Sometimes we are well aware of our reasons. Sometimes we behave automatically without much forethought at all. I am sure we have all experienced that countless times throughout our lives. Kids, on the other hand, have not had the opportunities or life experiences to know the” whys?” of their behavior.
Other than, the typical mad, bad, happy kinds of general categories most kids do not have the emotional vocabulary to express clearly what it is that they are feeling. What they do know is that something hurts or feels uncomfortable and they want that bad feeling to stop. They may not even know what that is because they just know that it feels awful.
Without solid coping strategies or emotional vocabularies, kids will act out how they feel.
Children want us to see what they are dealing with. They want us to fix it or at least help them to fix it. They want to be heard and have us listen to them. This is what we as parents are seeing and are attempting to deal with. A lack of understanding their own emotions manifested into what we consider challenging behaviors. We can really benefit from learning and understanding the message behind the behavior and learn how to address that.
This is a common misconception among parents. Our kids act out, they don’t respond to our strategies and as a result, we begin to feel deflated. Somehow we have failed completely and are to blame for what is happening with our kids.
To this, I say stop where you are right now and listen…None of us are perfect not at life in general and definitely not when it comes to parenting our children.
Instead what we are is a combination of techniques and styles from our own parents. That includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Then add to the mix our life lessons that have been learned along the way. Top it off with our anger management styles and anxiety copy methods and it’s no wonder some days, things rip apart at the seams. It’s kind of like the default settings that often we all have.
Outside influences in our kid’s lives can contribute in huge ways to their behaviors, challenging or not. Just as an example, I am sure that most of us know that bullying is a real and widespread issue in our culture. It is not always about the bigger kid taking lunch money from the little kid. There are things like shunning and ostracizing that can be devastating and damaging for kids. In addition to that, we have the whole online version of bullying with its humiliation and threatening behaviors. The point is, that bullying can show in the difficult behaviors being displayed in our own children. Often as they are trying to figure out on their own how to preserve themselves, how to survive attacks on their self-esteem or manage their own physical safety.
Another outside influence that can contribute to challenging behaviors is if you are co-parenting with a partner who lives in another home. Sometimes behaviors can be the result of differing rules or limits and expectations that are being set in the different homes that the child has to live in.
Behavioural challenges can also be the result of anxiety. In fact, it is really the most common mental health issue affecting kids in North America as well as many other parts of the world.
They can also be the result of medical issues like; learning disabilities, depression and or autism. Even with a bigger picture at play, as parents, we cannot take a backseat and allow someone else take charge in dealing with the challenges being presented.
Your responsibility as a parent is to teach and help your kids develop healthy self-management skills.
Whatever the origins of the behavior or behaviors; know that you will come face to face with them as a parent. Understand that your family will likely suffer if there is no positive action taking place. Instead of blaming yourself, why not consider yourself to be a vital part of the solution. With your commitment, your persistence, knowing and using available resources like parent coaching you are taking steps towards your child’s well-being and ultimately your family’s success.
I think the only other major myth or misconception parents face is they often think that they are in this alone. Parents and families in my experience will suffer in silence sometimes for years before they ask for any kind of help. Its when the school has called for the 100th time, or they are starting to hear from other kids parents. It may even be that things have really escalated to unbearable and or frightening levels at home when parents finally stop, take a breath and admit that there is a deeper problem there. In conclusion, I just want to say again to all the parents reading this today, “You are not alone!”
There are many resources for parents that include everything from apps to support groups both on and offline. For a more one on one setting, there are counselors, psychologists, and parenting coaches. In fact, I want to encourage parents to explore our no-cost discovery session here at Blissful Parenting. Reach out, give it a try and see if it fits. The support is here and help is available. You don’t have to do it alone.