It’s tough being a parent and even more difficult to understand when a child’s behaviour has passed the normal ebb and flow of family life and needs intervention. It’s quite normal to worry about when to seek behaviour intervention too and if you are considering it, let me help you understand both how important it is and how easy it is to reach out for help that can bring you peace of mind.
Perhaps this behaviour is something you think you can leave for a bit. Perhaps you’re not sure if it’s a stage. However, whatever way you want to look at it dealing with challenging behaviour is emotionally wearing. Parents toss and turn over sleepless nights asking themselves, ‘Am I the only one dealing with this?” They wonder if it’s normal to be stuck in an endless struggle with their children. They care a lot and as a result, it takes it toll on their health.
There’s a vacuum for information on this for parents
There’s no manual that tell parents the red flags to look out for and so people commonly are just left nursing a deep down feeling that something just isn’t right. That’s also very stressful for moms, dads or caregivers because while a parent’s instinct is saying one thing, society at large is often telling them something else.
Parents deserve real answers, not platitudes
So it’s worth asking what are they saying? Well I heard a classic the other day, told to a poor mom dealing with chronic temper tantrum meltdowns from her four year old. He was having them everywhere, the car, at home, with friends, at play school, you name it. Flailing arms and legs were just part of her normal day to day. “Don’t worry, it’s a stage. He’ll grow out of it,” she was told. But that’s just not unhelpful to a stressed out mom that knows in her heart something is wrong, it’s also likely that if she takes that advice and puts up with it, she’ll wish she’d never have listened. That’s because she was told to ignore her instinct and that’s never a good plan. That’s why it’s so important to listen to that inner voice and reach out for a solution. Working with me will take the stress off and help you feel in control again. It will change your life and that of your child/children for the better.
It’s a stage…isn’t it?
The ‘it’s a stage’ argument, is the one I hear most often and of all the crazy ideas in this world, it’s the most unhelpful because it muddies the water as to when to seek behaviour intervention help. It causes parents to ignore what their little inner voice is telling them and that can make everyone unhappy. Yes, difficult behaviour is a stage and left on it’s own that behaviour will eventually get better but here’s where the problem is, while the behaviour goes away, what’s causing it, doesn’t.
That means the behaviour simply goes underground for a while and comes back in a different and more sophisticated form with unstable teenagers who engage in behaviours like cutting and other fun things. After all, all children eventually grow up and no-one, well at least not many people will have kicking screaming meltdowns in the corridor at College or University. Behaviour no matter what kind you’re dealing with will morph, that’s to be expected.
So what about the red flags?
So let’s look at the red flag behaviours that would lead me to encourage parents to have an behaviour intervention?
When you look at the behaviours listed below, first ask yourself how often it happens? This really comes down to a case of frequency. You have to look at how often they are displaying these behaviours. All kids turn their nose up at certain foods or hate Brussels sprouts and most kids will have a defiant moment or two every once in a while. It’s when these behaviours become part of daily life or they display any of the last three, that there’s a need to look after it immediately.
Here’s what to look for
- Temper tantrums that continue as a habit beyond the two year old age group.
- Multiple temper tantrums each day in a two year old.
- Hitting you or other people routinely.
- Biting (more that a few times)
- Constant whining
- Extreme picky eating (Will only eat x,y,z) for which there is no medical explanation.
- Disrupting your sleep with constant demands over a long period (when they are not longer a baby.)
- Vomiting at bedtime.
- Controlling or manipulating behaviour. Ordering you or other people around.
- Not showing you much affection as parents.
- Hurting people passive aggressively, ie. Without looking as though it’s intended.
- Acting like they don’t care when they do hurt people.
Well, there you have it. So what other factors get in the way of parents acting on the knowledge they need parenting help? Embarrassment is certainly a cause. People feel they’ll be judged which I can tell you just simply isn’t the case. Working with me is comforting because you are solving the problem. People constantly tell me they feel, happier, lighter because all the things that were bothering them have disappeared.
Knowing when to reach out for behaviour intervention is key and although reaching out for help is difficult, it’s also the most important thing a parent struggling with the issues above can do and it can save you from so much heartache later on. If there’s one thing you learn as a parent, once your child is all grown up, there are no do-overs. Give yourself the gift of a happy home.
For more information about how behaviour interventions work, please go to my behaviour intervention services page.
For more information and my answers to common parenting questions, visit my advice column.