Are you struggling with a child’s behaviour?

Week in and week out, parents come to me for help with clingy, whingy children who demand their attention. They are struggling to manage the behaviour when the child gets angry or aggressive. The no 1 mistake in parenting is confusion between  person and behaviour.

‘I love you but this behaviour is not ok’

Struggling with a child's behaviour?

Struggling with a child’s behaviour?

Separate the child from the behaviour and get a better response. ‘When you calm down and I calm down, we can sort this out; but not until then’. If the child is not listening to you, the child will, once they have a sense of feeling heard and understood. Engage their co operation when you give him a sense of feeling heard and listened to, and then they will listen to you!

Asking a child ten times to do something is a mugs game. Tell the child, that you will only ask once from now on and then do the following; using the example of calling him for dinner.


  • Go to the child in his bedroom
  • Come down to his eye level and use his name
  • Get his attention and maintain eye contact
  • State your need or expectation ‘John, I need you to come to dinner now. I have gone to a bit of trouble to make something nice and I need you to come down now; thank you’

If the child is still not co operating; their may be a deeper issue

If the child still is not cooperating, the child is not trying to be difficult, but he is communicating. There may be a need he has, they he feel you have not co operated with. It is often for time with you individually and positive attention.

All behaviour has a reason

His behaviour makes sense, what is the ‘why’ of the behaviour? If his behaviour is challenging, what is the intention of that behaviour? To get attention I hear you say. Yes, negative attention, which is better than no attention.  If what you are doing is not working, you may as well try something different.

Responding to challenging behaviour

  • Ignore most if not all challenging behaviour
  • ‘Catch him being good ‘ at every little thing; children love to be praised
  • Whatever behaviour you notice – increases; so when you see what he does right; he will do more right!
  • However; the more you notice poor behaviour; the more he feels bad and when he feels bad, he will show it in his behaviour. Therefore; why would you punish or use consequences?
  • Consequences and punishments only work in the short term, use choices instead.
  • ‘You can choose the juice or milk with your medicine; which do you choose

What does your child need from you when he is struggling?

  • He needs you to be calm; to teach him to manage his feelings too
  • He needs you to watch your tone as tone is everything
  • He need you to be patient as he is a child
  • He need you to connect with him daily with 8-10 minutes of 1:1 time
  • He needs you to be present to him when you have been gone all day & put away the phone!

Children never try to be difficult, but they are communicating a need. Feelings are at the heart of difficult behaviour, so get in touch with how he feels and help him to regulate his feelings through showing empathy and compassion. No time out – except you may need some for you. What the child needs is Time In to the feelings than underlies the behaviour.

Finally; when in doubt remember Love heals

He may feel that you love his sibling more and he needs your 1:1 time, gentle reassurance and positive attention.


For more ideas: