HOLISTIC KIDS AND PARENTS
A Different Take on
Kids’ Behaviours WORDS ANNE MAXWELL
hat if behaviour is a form of communication? If that’s true, then what are children saying when they “act out,” or act “naughty,” or cry a lot, or throw tantrums, or …? As a child and family and play therapist, many children are referred to see me because their parents, teachers or pediatricians are concerned about the child’s behaviours at home, at school or out in the community. Rather than looking to correct the behaviours, I’m much more interested in what’s creating them… what the children don’t have the words to say verbally. It has been my experience that people do the best they can with the information and tools and resources they have available to them. Given all of that, some of the first questions I ask myself when I hear about a child acting out are: “What is this? What is he telling us? What’s going on with her? ”
A mum brought her five-year-old son to see me. He had been getting into trouble at school and was difficult at home. He was argumentative, oppositional, rude and aggressive at times. They sat on the sofa, and, he couldn’t keep his hands away from her. He was invading her space and she was clearly irritated. He kept on trying to sit in her lap and she was at the end of her rope, pushing him off so that he could sit next to her. As she described his behaviours, he continued to poke her and squirm and wiggle and giggle. After several minutes, I asked him about what she said and he shrugged his little shoulders. Then, I asked him: “What do you know about your Mum?” He sat bolt upright and appeared to stop breathing. His eyes locked into mine, and, he said: “Mikey (her boyfriend at the time) is going to move in with us, and, then he’s going to
leave and Mummy’s going to cry.” She burst into tears. A week later she called to tell me that since the session, his “naughty” behaviours had all but disappeared, and, that she had broken up with her boyfriend! Tool: Ask a question! The next time your child acts out, ask yourself: What is this? What can I do with it? The next time your child gets into trouble at school, rather than try to figure it out and come up with an answer for him, ask him: What is that? What do you know about your teacher? What do you know about those kids? … and, what else do you know? And, what else? … Keep your opinions to yourself and just listen! You might be amazed at what they actually do know! childfamilyplaytherapy.com
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3/20/2014 10:21:56 AM