04 December 2013

a behaviour update



I've mentioned before now about the struggles we have with Theo's behaviour, and I just thought I'd do a little update.

It's hard for me to talk about really because it's a daily stress that sometimes I find it really hard to deal with. Things don't seem to be getting any better, and sometimes in fact they seem a little worse than they were a few months ago, if thats possible. He is regularly hitting and screaming at us at home as well as still hitting other children. It's just pretty difficult to reason with him, and even though we are pretty consistent with our dealing with the behaviour it still doesn't seem to work.

When he hits us at home we take him to the stairs to sit and have a calm down. We've never called it the naughty step, and he can stay there as long as he feels he needs to. At nursery they have told me that when he's in the garden that sometimes if he feels cross he will take himself off to a bench or steps and sit with his arms crossed until he feels better. This is the one good thing I have seen develop in the last few weeks. He understands what the emotion anger is, and we have told him it's ok to feel cross and angry but that hitting/screaming/biting/throwing isn't acceptable behaviour to deal with it. We always try and focus on the fact that the behaviour is the thing that is bad, not him himself. I've learnt that I just need to let him calm down on his own because if I try and tell him whilst he's still raging what I think of his behaviour then he just ends up screaming in my face even more. 

When we're out and he hits other children or me then we will try and find somewhere to have a calm down, and often he will walk away and sit himself down. But from what I can see of when he is around other children, either at the park, nursery or round a friends house, is that he seems to perceive every child as a threat and doesn't give them the chance to interact with, he'll just go to hit them if they get too close. He doesn't seem to be able to use his words quick enough so will just lash out first. He seems to understand quite well after that what he has done is not acceptable, and will always try and say sorry but just can't control it in the moment. 

Today the health visitor came to visit me to have a talk and to observe Theo. They have also suggested at nursery that they would like to get a behaviour specialist in to see what they think the reasons for the way he acts are and to provide guidance on how best to deal with it. The HV gave some really good advice, to basically carry on what we are doing, but to firm up my voice when dealing with the behaviour and certain phrases to use. I also think having a specialist observe him whilst at nursery is a good idea and I'm hoping it will provide some answers.

For now I thought I would include this interesting article on tantrums:


Building Toddler Confidence: Great Ways to Beat Tantrums
Any parent of a toddler will, or should be, used to tantrums by now and if you’re a parent of a child who hasn’t had a tantrum yet, brace yourselves, because it will happen eventually. Every child is different and the way in which parents deal with a wobbler is different – there is no right way of handling it, no matter what the books and child psychologists may say.
Tantrums are a completely normal reaction that can be frustrating for us, but imagine what the child is dealing with. Many of the tantrums they have, particularly when they’re younger and don’t really understand what they’re doing, are due to an overwhelming panic that builds up in their brain. Where it stems from will depend on the particular scenario that has triggered it but the only way in which the child can handle their brain activity is to let hell break loose on whoever is around them!
By building a toddler’s confidence and having a few little tricks up your sleeve, you will have the tools you need to try and diffuse the tantrum before it happens. Here are a few ideas.
Distraction
This is a marvellous method that can really work if you read your child’s cues quick enough. If you can see a potential tantrum bubbling beneath their skin, distract them! Whether it’s with a toy that plays a tune and grabs their attention, such as the super cute Dance & Play Puppy that’s been on the TV recently, or it’s you doing a silly dance and acting a little daft, distraction can work wonders.
Stay Calm
Your children won’t be able to get a hold of their emotions if you react badly. They’re still learning how to control their impulsive reactions and need you to stay calm. Imagine someone shouting at you and making you feel worse when you’re feeling ratty and stressed – it won’t make you feel better, will it!
Get down to their level
Make eye contact with them and talk to them on their level. Looking at them straight in the eyes should help to calm them down and improve the chance of the tantrum subsiding.
Change the environment
It’s amazing what this can do if they’re mid-meltdown. Nip outside with them or run them a bath; a change of scenery can help them to calm down. Going outside will also give them the chance to run around and get some fresh air, too.

Tantrums don’t have to be embarrassing and difficult to deal with – stay calm and they’ll (hopefully) co-operate in no time!

Written in collaboration with Kira. 

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