One of the first things I learned when I started working at children’s homes was the word “trigger.”
When children came into our care, it was often because their behavior was uncontrollable. Their parents didn’t know how to respond to them.
The thing is, behavior is really just another form of communication. This is so important to remember; because, children use this form of communication more than any other. It is also their most reliable form of communication. Often, they say things they do not mean because they have not developed the words they need to express complicated emotions.
So, if you view behavior as a means of communication and you are having a hard time dealing with the “words” that are being thrown at you, remember that there is a deeper meaning.
I remember as a child saying to my mother “I hate you!” I didn’t really hate her. I loved her more than anything. But, when she told me that we couldn’t stay just a little longer, it was more than I could bear. I wanted her to know how frustrated I was. I had a strong feeling that needed equally strong language. The only thing I could think of were those ugly words.
She responded, as is often prescribed, by ignoring me. The effect? I started using it for everything.
You see, instead of showing me that it didn’t hurt her feelings, I thought she was saying that she didn’t care about ME. I kept trying to get a response.
When I have been faced with similar situations, I take it as a sign that this child needs language to express their feelings.
It is the same with slamming doors, refusing to work, fidgeting, physical reactions, and the like. They are all forms of communication used to express strong emotions when a child feels that they do not have a voice.
The best way to help your child to use more positive forms of communication is to help your child to have a voice. In order to do that you need to know what is bothering them. Remember that they don’t know how or what to tell you. So, you are going to need to do some guessing and clarify as you talk to see if you are on the right track.
How do you know what is bothering them? Often there is a pretty clear pattern. If you are not familiar with your child’s pattern yet, take some time to observe how they interact with you and others. Take note of when and how your child shows strong reactions. Also, notice what happens in the moments before the incident.
Ask yourself two questions:
- Is there anything I can change in my approach to help prevent my child from becoming more agitated?
- How can I empathize with my child about this situation? This will help to provide language for them to express their feelings in a peaceful way.
This process will take significant time. It is a lot of work. So, I will leave you with that homework. Stay tuned for more information about
- how to recognize escalation patterns
- language to use when speaking to a triggered child
- Preventing SHAME in our children
- peaceful communication tools to teach that child
- when siblings cause triggers
- and what to do if all of that doesn’t work!
If you haven’t done so yet, sign up for my FREE guide “4 Days To A THRIVING HOMESCHOOL” where you will learn strategies to recognize your child’s God-given talents and how to begin implementing that new knowledge to work WITH you child and not AGAINST them!