Parenting Tips for your 'Out of Control' Child
As parents, we all encounter moments when our child's behaviour feels overwhelming. However, for some parents, navigating an "out-of-control child" becomes a constant reality. These children consistently test limits and seem to be indifferent to consequences, which can be challenging to manage. In such situations, it's essential to prioritise creating safety and fostering a connection with your child. Here are some tips to support you:
Understand what is Motivating their Behaviour
When faced with challenging behaviour, it's crucial to remember that there's always a motivation behind it. Positive parenting experts worldwide agree that a child's negative or disruptive actions are rooted in something intrinsic to them. Whether it's a struggle to manage their emotions, a need for attention, or a desire to assert their independence, there's always a reason driving their behaviour, even if they themselves are unaware of it.
As parents, our role is to delve deeper and uncover the underlying cause beneath the frustrating behaviour. Imagine yourself as a detective, seeking to understand what your child is trying to achieve through their actions. If they had the verbal skills and emotional awareness, what would they be trying to communicate?
By identifying the root cause, we can become proactive parents, taking steps to prevent outbursts before they occur. Let's consider an example: You need to take an important phone call, but your children choose that exact moment to engage in a wrestling match. Despite your attempts to signal your frustration, the wrestling continues, leaving you exhausted by the end of the call.
In this situation, the goal behind the wrestling match was likely to gain your attention and provoke a reaction. They knew you were occupied, and negative behaviour became a way to ensure they had your focus. Learn from this experience and proactively prepare for future situations.
Twenty minutes before your call, engage with your children and propose playing a game together. Give them your undivided attention during that time, and remind them about the upcoming call, expressing your excitement to play again afterward. When it's time for the call, provide them with a choice—whether to watch a show or play quietly with their Legos.
Additionally, offer a means for them to communicate something urgent if needed. Leave a pad of paper nearby so they can write or draw their thoughts, ready to share with you once the call concludes.
By filling their attention buckets beforehand and setting clear expectations, you'll likely find that your children exhibit better behaviour during your calls. Remember, understanding and nurturing their needs can lead to smoother interactions and a stronger connection with your child.
Set Boundaries with Love and Consistency
Children often test boundaries because they have a strong need for safety and security. By maintaining firm boundaries without bending, you provide them with a sense of stability. When setting rules, ensure that you consistently follow through with appropriate consequences.
Clear Communication is Key
Children process information differently than adults. It's crucial to communicate with them in a clear and understandable manner. Consider creating a written list of household rules to help them grasp what behaviours are acceptable and what are not.
Embrace Positive Language
Nobody, especially a dysregulated child, enjoys being constantly told what they CAN'T do. Instead, focus on positive language that highlights what they CAN do after completing a task or chore. This approach fosters a more optimistic mindset and promotes cooperation.
Seek Understanding and Support
If you've tried these strategies and others but continue to face challenges in parenting your child, it may be beneficial to explore therapy. A trained therapist can help facilitate communication between you and your child, uncover underlying reasons for their behaviour, and provide tools to foster positive change.
If you'd like to explore treatment options or discuss further, please don't hesitate to reach out. I'm here to support you and your family on this journey of growth and connection.