Encouraging cooperative behaviour at home Madhavi Nawana Parker (B.APsych;Grad Dip Rehab; C.M.A.C.A) Behaviour Consultant
Behaviour • All children experience difficult periods where their actions are inappropriate, inconsiderate and embarrassing for their parents. • Inappropriate, inconsiderate behaviour does not reflect problematic parenting styles or abilities. It is inevitable. • Children react to situations that are unfavourable according to 1) Their developmental abilities 2) their emotional temperament and 3) the response from adults (controlling or guiding). • When we see behaviour we like, it tells us that our child feels good about the situation and they feel good about themselves. • When we see behaviour that we don’t like it tells us that our child is feeling uncomfortable about the situation and unhappy about themselves.
Remember… • There are no naughty children. There are only children that have lost self control or are reacting to a difficult situation with limited skills. • The only way for children to learn to be considerate is to test the limits, explore and experiment. • Along this path to consideration there will be HUGE mistakes! Mistakes are inevitable and should not be punished. • Mistakes are sometimes the very behaviours that make us feel uncomfortable. • When we feel uncomfortable we don’t always react how we would like to-especially when we have an audience.
Wise words once said… “When a person is drowning, that is not the time to give swimming lessons”
Remember • Feelings and thinking are like oil and water. They do not mix. Thinking will return once feelings have been restored. • Most children need help to restore their emotions. • We can restore emotions by increasing proximity and comforting them. For some children, only time away (not time out) will help them restore emotion.
But what about us parents??!! • Out of control emotions are hard to handle • Inconsiderate behaviour is annoying and embarrassing • Sometimes the behaviour is so awful that the thought of bringing our children close and comforting them is disturbing in itself!
Help! What do we do then? • Run away! • Breathe slowly and deeply. • Speak positively to yourself. For example you could tell yourself, “I am calm.” • Reassure your child (e.g. “I love you and I am going to help you soon”) • Give a short explanation about why you can’t help right now (e.g. “I am feeling cross and I need to go to my room and listen to some music until I feel calm”) • Give your child something to do (preferably something pleasant) e.g. “you can read your comics while I calm down.” Hopefully engaging in something pleasant will help the child calm too.
What we can do in our children’s environment • Build on relationships between each other and especially between siblings. • Find ways to ensure everyone knows that they “belong” • Allow everyone to contribute to the home in some way. • Remember the 3 C’s (Capable, Connected, Contributes)
Some ways to highlight to our children how pleased we are with them • Attention • Gossip • Hand ticks • Be a clown • Friendly non verbal feedback (winks, high fives, thumbs up, tousle hair etc) • Praise the process, not the product. Praise the action not the child.
Empathy • In typical development toddlers as young as 6 months old show concern when another baby or toddler is upset. • Toddlers will often check that another child is okay when they are hurt. They might also try to comfort them. • The development of empathy helps us in the social world. Through empathy we show we care and friendships develop through mutual empathy
Supporting the development of Empathy • Empathy can be and should be worked on. • We develop empathy by experiencing empathy. • Not all children pick up the signals that they are being empathised with. These children need it spelt out to them. • The “fast food rule”
How to show empathy • Being empathic should ALWAYS be your first point of call. • When showing empathy and helping a child calm down try getting down just below their eye level. • When asserting authority sit slightly above their eye level but still stay close to their height. • Whoever is most upset always goes first.
Things to try • Empathise with either the fast food rule or with the “I understand that it is fun to throw sand through your hair. I don’t like you doing it because it is hard to get out without it hurting you. What can we do about this? We can keep playing with the sand without putting it in your hair or we can find something else to do. What have you decided? • Time in and time away • Grant a wish • Talk about their physical feelings, teach them to express feelings • Whisper • Be silly/ weak
Family expectations • Why? • Here are ours Friendly words, gentle actions, quiet listening, try our best. • They apply to everyone including adults
Social skills • Teaching social competence is the best behaviour management for all children. • Start by teaching the purpose of having good social skills. • Then teach one skill at a time starting with the easiest. • Make sure everyone working with and around your child knows what the skill is.
How to teach a new social skill • Give an explanation • Role Model • Role Play • Discuss where the skill might be used • Check for understanding • Provide plenty of prompts and cues for using the skill
Final thoughts • Children need our time, our love and our understanding… nothing more. • We are human. We are doing the most challenging job in the world. It is impossible to be consistent, understanding and responsive all the time. Children do just fine with this reality. • You will not be in this challenging period forever. When your child is independent, letting you have a conversation with another adult without interrupting, sitting next to a sibling at the table without poking them and not saying, “poo poo” every second word you will actually miss this time of challenge and adventure!