As many of us have found out the hard way, being a parent can be tough. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and this can be especially true for kids as well. Learning the truth about big behaviours in our children can help to support the whole family.
What are Big Behaviours?
Big behaviours have been categorised as many different things throughout the years, such as tantrums, meltdowns, or even being naughty. However, when we begin by thinking that a child is naughty, we begin thinking about ‘consequences’ or ‘punishment’; but when we approach from the view that a child is struggling, we begin thinking about how we can help them navigate their surroundings and make sense of their world.
Why do Children Have Big Behaviours?
When we feel like pulling our hair out, we need to remember that big behaviours can be developmentally appropriate as children test boundaries or learn to communicate effectively. It’s normal for a child to begin to exhibit big behaviours when there has been a big change in their life, such as the arrival of a new baby, moving house, or even a shift of routine.
Since you are the safest spot for your child, you are going to experience the brunt of these big behaviours when they are exhausted from having to ‘keep it together’ all day. If your child’s behaviour changes dramatically and suddenly for no apparent reason, consider visiting your GP to ensure that their health is still tracking ok.
What Can I do to Help my Child Manage Their Big Behaviours?
There are several techniques that you can use to help your child, and it is worth trying a few different things to find out what works best for your child and family. Consistency is important and, if possible, have the various adults in your child’s life (parents, grandparents, day care educators, etc.) follow the same techniques. Some of these techniques can include:
Following a routine: If your child knows what to expect, it helps them to feel secure and less prone to big behaviours. As a bonus, it also helps with building independence.
Effective instruction: Ensure that you get your child’s attention before giving them instructions. Keep instructions short and clear. Use visual reminders to support the instruction.
Attention and praise: When you see your child doing something well, tell them. If you see another child doing something well, mention it to your child; for example, “I like the way that Johnny is picking up his toys”.
Planned ignoring: Our children can sometimes exhibit big behaviours to get our attention, but if we take away the attention that they get, we take away the power of the big behaviours. Try to ignore what you can, but if it is a matter of safety, definitely step in!
Planning ahead: If you know that your child has big behaviours in certain situations, be prepared for them. Fore-warn your child about what is happening, so they are less likely to become overwhelmed. Come prepared with snacks, activities, comforters, etc. to help keep them distracted.
These are just some of the techniques that you can try with your child. If you need more support in this area, the Mission Australia ECEI (Early Childhood Early Intervention) Team can help point you in the right direction.
No question is too silly, or concern too great – we are here to support you.