Do you wonder what to do when your child has some puzzling, even distressing behaviors? Do you wonder why he acts the way he does? No need to panic–the key is to find the meaning behind the behavior. If you don’t understand it, how in the world can you know what to do?
Parents often have self-doubt and underestimate themselves because they think they should have all the answers immediately. It’s counter-intuitive to not offer immediate consequences, but actually, it’s better to think before you act. Here are some suggestions for unlocking your parental intelligence and solving problems before they grow too big.
1. When you face puzzling behaviors, don’t react immediately but Step Back and mentally survey the situation. Take your time calmly and your child will calm down, too, when he or she sees you not getting upset.
2. Become a “Meaning-Maker.” Take your time to understand the meaning behind a misbehavior, so you know what to do. Behavior is a communication. The task is to decipher the message.
3. First ask yourself, “What does it mean?” not “What do I do?” If you don’t understand a behavior, how can you know how to react?
4. Take time to Self-Reflect. Think about how you feel when your child is behaving in an unexpected manner. Your feelings may not only be a reaction to the present behavior, but they may be a trigger to something that happened to you in the past.
5. Try to stay non-judgmental and empathic. Parental Intelligence means asking “Why.” Think of your child as a “distressed” child, not a “bad” child.
6. Understanding Your Child’s Mind is the crux of Parental Intelligence. You begin to learn that behind her actions are feelings, desires, thoughts and intentions that led to her behavior.
7. Given all you are learning, open dialogue begins. Keep the door opened always saying, “Tell me more.” Listen closely and carefully. Let your child finish what she is saying before you comment.
8. Give your child respect and he or she will respect you. This means after you listen, you ask if you heard your child by paraphrasing what he said and letting him elaborate.
9. You may be surprised that the initial behavior vanishes. Then you discover important problems lay underneath. You have found the underlying meanings behind the behavior.
10. You have strengthened your parent-child bond. Congratulations!
Practicing Unlocking Your Parental Intelligence day by day is an ever-growing process.
Unlocking Parental Intelligence becomes a new way of life.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with a new book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius, and wherever books are sold.