UN­DER­STAND YOUR CHILD’S BE­HAV­IOUR

Great Health Guide - - FRONT PAGE - Words Clare Crew De­sign Olek­san­dra Zuieva

Chil­dren’s be­hav­iour of­ten falls short of our ideal. There may be tantrums, tears, ag­gres­sion, ar­gu­ing and a re­fusal to do what’s be­ing asked. When a child be­haves in th­ese ways, our pa­tience is tested. We feel over­whelmed, frus­trated and de­pleted. We la­bel the child’s ac­tions as ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate’ and al­lo­cate a con­se­quence de­signed to de­ter its fu­ture rep­e­ti­tion. This ap­proach is rarely a suc­cess. Which is why we are con­tin­u­ing to see the same be­hav­iours in our chil­dren again and again. You may be sur­prised to read that a child’s be­hav­iour is not driven by their de­light at giv­ing us grey hairs. In­stead, it is in­stinc­tively se­lected to meet the needs of their higher de­vel­op­ment. When ex­am­in­ing a child’s be­hav­iour, clues are al­ways left be­hind, in­form­ing us of what is sought de­vel­op­men­tally. We just need to sit up and pay at­ten­tion.

Let’s ex­plore four ex­am­ples:

1. Hyper­ac­tiv­ity - when a child can’t sit still, med­i­ca­tion isn’t what’s needed. The body is crav­ing more move­ment. A child’s brain is not ma­ture and ready for the aca­demic world of school un­til foun­da­tions have firstly been laid in the phys­i­cal body. That’s why move­ment is cru­cial in early life, with the need con­tin­u­ing if chal­lenges are en­coun­tered, in the ar­eas of learn­ing, at­ten­tion and be­hav­iour. Not con­vinced? Look at the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween tod­dlers and hy­per­ac­tive chil­dren. Both move con­stantly, their fo­cus is short and they are work­ing to their own agenda, not ours. The only fac­tor that’s changed be­tween th­ese two groups of chil­dren, is our agere­lated ex­pec­ta­tions.

2. Bit­ing - when a child is bit­ing other peo­ple or ob­jects, he or she is seek­ing more pro­pri­o­cep­tion. Pro­pri­o­cep­tive in­put is that which stim­u­lates the mus­cles, joints and lig­a­ments of the body. Think of any­thing your body does with ex­er­tion; push­ing, pulling, squeez­ing, lift­ing and yes, bit­ing. Giv­ing a bit­ing child more op­por­tu­ni­ties to flex their mus­cles may elim­i­nate this be­hav­iour. Ideas to try in­clude rough and tum­ble play, car­ry­ing their own bag, wall push ups, hang­ing on mon­key bars, deep pres­sure mas­sage and gi­ant bear hugs. Che­w­able jew­ellery can also be used to pro­vide the sought af­ter bit­ing sen­sa­tion, in a safer way.

3. Thumb Suck­ing - when a child sucks their thumb be­yond tod­dler­hood, they may be seek­ing ad­di­tional com­fort in a world that is anx­i­ety pro­vok­ing. As a baby, the suck­ing ac­tion is associated with com­fort and for some chil­dren, this need con­tin­ues be­yond the first few months of life. An­other rea­son that a child may con­tinue suck­ing their thumb, is to re­lieve the cra­nial pres­sure that may be lin­ger­ing from the birth process. A cran­iosacral ther­a­pist or chi­ro­prac­tor can ad­dress this struc­turally, thereby re­solv­ing the be­hav­iour.

4. Melt­downs - when a child is over­whelmed or when un­ex­pected changes oc­cur, melt­downs are likely to tran­spire. Melt­downs are big­ger than tantrums and are out of the child’s con­trol. When one has run its course, it is es­sen­tial to con­sider the events lead­ing up to it, in or­der to re­duce the fre­quency of their oc­cur­rence. Hav­ing a pre­dictable rou­tine and re­duc­ing trips to high sen­sory spa­ces such as shop­ping cen­tres, can be in­cred­i­bly

AL­LO­CAT­ING A CON­SE­QUENCE DE­SIGNED TO DE­TER REP­E­TI­TION, RARELY SUC­CEEDS.

ben­e­fi­cial. When a child feels safe in the world around them, melt­downs dis­si­pate.

In read­ing th­ese four ex­am­ples, it is eas­ier to recog­nise that ‘prob­lem’ be­hav­iours in our eyes are devel­op­men­tal clues in dis­guise. To move for­wards, we need to meet our chil­dren’s be­hav­iour with less re­ac­tiv­ity and more un­der­stand­ing. We need to con­sider what is be­ing com­mu­ni­cated to us and to plan for how we can sup­port that un­met need.

Clare Crew has a Mas­ter’s De­gree in Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion & is a Child De­vel­op­ment Con­sul­tant with qual­i­fi­ca­tions in early child­hood, spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion teach­ing & cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in the field of neuro-de­vel­op­ment. Her busi­ness, Thrive Ed­u­ca­tion and Well­ness, lights the path for strug­gling par­ents & em­pow­ers chil­dren to be the best ver­sion of them­selves. Clare can be con­tacted though her web­site.

PROB­LEM BE­HAV­IOURS ARE DEVEL­OP­MEN­TAL CLUES IN DIS­GUISE

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.