As children grow and develop, parents can face many hurdles when it comes to their behaviour but it often doesn’t have to be that way.
This is where having access to amazing resources such as Behaviour Consultant Stephanie Wicker from Simply Kids can help to assist not only parents, but grandparents, educators, teachers and anyone else who spends time with children.
I recently caught up with Stephanie to have a chat to her about children’s behaviour and this is what she had to say.
“I have worked with children for over thirteen years. Beginning as a preschool teacher, the journey over this past decade or so has been incredible. I found myself working with children who have special needs these past six years co-developing and facilitating early intensive behaviour intervention programs designed specifically for each child, catering to their needs in language, social and behavioural development.
It was through this experience that I learned the impact parents had on their child’s developmental success based on their knowledge and skills. It was an absolute pleasure to watch these families meet their goals for their children through something as simple, yet crucial, as parent training. Around this time, I knew I had found my calling and set off to begin a consultancy business in order to continue supporting families during the early stages of their child’s development.”
- If you could give parents just three words of advice about parenting, what would they be?
“Understand challenging behaviours. When we take the time to understand why children behave the way they do, we become empowered over our own emotional responses to challenging behaviour. It is those responses that decide the outcome for that child. There is no greater support we can offer children than choosing to listen and understand them when they need us the most.”
- What is the question that you get asked the most and what is your response?
“Great question. I probably hear something beginning with “What do I do when…”
What do I do when my child hits? What do I do when my child won’t share? What do I do when my class won’t listen?
I think most parents and teachers worry about HOW to handle challenging behaviour. “Am I being too submissive?” or “Am I being too under the thumb?”
These are understandable concerns. So many times we think we know exactly how to handle a situation but when we dive in with our consequence everything just gets worse or we feel disconnected to that child.
Every client I work with has a desire to connect with their children or classroom. By understanding WHY these behaviours are happening we can begin to shape our responses and teach new behaviour to take the place of unwanted behaviour.
Evidence consistently shows us that the key to “getting rid” of non-preferred behaviour is teaching a replacement and boosting a child’s motivation to use that replacement. There are two punishment procedures that I teach my clients. When we combine those with replacement skills and motivation, we will see a complete turn-around in behaviour within seconds. It is truly amazing.
A quick example of what I mean is this. Let’s look at biting. Why do children bite? Each scenario serves its own function but essentially is to get that child’s needs met. When we introduce a replacement to biting, such as asking for an item and then pair it with high amounts of motivation, that child will quickly learn that asking is much more effective than biting and that replacement will become their new “fall back” behaviour when they want something that someone else has.”
- Is there a particular age that seems to give parent/guardians the most grief?
“It’s kind of funny. Every parent tells me THEIR child’s age is the hardest! I find that all ages bring their own challenges. My absolute favourite age has to be eighteen months to three years old. I know, I know! The terrible two’s have an awful reputation but that is simply because they are developing their personality and understanding of the world around them and how they fit in to that puzzle. You can see them learning right before your very eyes! It excites me to be part of that developmental process.
I find that the real struggle is keeping toddlers out of mischief and danger without evoking tantrums which is why I made a video about this specifically for parents. Definitely check it out if you are feeling overwhelmed with your little one’s behaviour at home.”
Stephanie posts regular videos on her Facebook page “Simply Kids” which touches on many of the issues that parents are faced with in regards to children’s behaviour and gives some amazing advice on how best to deal with these behaviours.
Check out the links on the banners at the side of this article to see all of the amazing work that she does.