We all know or have a child that we have collectively labeled “difficult”. The child who is not endearing but is clearly used as an example of “what not to do” and “how not to behave.” We are wired to simplify and box “people” as a way to conserve our brain’s energy. But these labels turn into stereotypes. Which are sticky and thus harmful.
The next time a child is displaying dysregulated behavior ‘aka’ tantrums that trigger a response
in us, I want you to pause.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself. “Why is this child’s behavior bothering me.” “How come I feel angry and dysregulated myself?”
This pausing allows you to develop empathy for the child who’s brain is not fully developed to fully self-regulate. Removing yourself and the child from the scene, taking a quick walk outside, drinking water are some very simple and actionable steps you can take to quickly regulate yourself and model self-regulation. So when a child continues to show defiant behavior as they grow up- the “difficult” label sticks to them. This label gives the child in question to remain stuck in these unhelpful patterns.
There is no authority figure who believes in them. They have no reason to change as they have been written off and left to their devices.
This is exactly where an empathetic care giver is most needed. No matter, if this child is destined to struggle all their life, we all have our demons to fight. But it is our duty to give every child a chance or two to turn their life around.
Many times, children surprise us. A kind word takes not much from you, but can mean life and death to another person.
Playing with a child, is the quickest and the easiest way to build rapport. Find out how they feel about a situation that makes them mad. Use tools like pretend play and storytime to allow them to creatively express their frustrations and their point of view.
Most of all, respect that you are dealing with another human being. A complete person who’s experiences and feelings are as valid as yours. Beginning with respect will allow you to work alongside the “difficult” child and develop a strategy to disrupt their negative patterns.
If it is a younger child, I have employed strategies like using the beka theatre below. Every time they are angry, they pretend to be the angry monster who expresses it’s feeling, from the comfort of pretend play.
Buy Beka Theatre Here
With an older child you would like to teach them to name all the feelings that are surfacing for them. Naming a feeling allows the brain to understand the situation with more clarity and hence also allows the executive functioning to take a part in decision making, instead of just having a knee jerk reaction.
Connect with me and let me know if any of these strategies helped you and what topics would you like me to discuss more. I love hearing from you. As usual my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Till next time folks
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