4 Questions to Help Parents Understand (and Respond) to Children’s Behavior

“When a child misbehaves, remember—kids are having a problem, they’re not being a problem.”

At this week’s Allies in Prevention Coalition meeting, SCAN hosted 30 local child welfare professionals to hear from parenting expert Rachel Bailey as she shared insight from her work coaching parents in hundreds of local families. Why do children throw tantrums, hit a sibling, refuse to do chores, and so many more things that challenge parents? And how can parents respond in healthy ways? The group discussed these questions and more—leaving the meeting with some excellent tools and ideas to share with the parents in their communities, including:

  1. WHY? “Many behaviors are the result of kids’ missing tools,” shared Rachel. This includes missing tools like impulse control, handling monotony, transitioning effectively, and problem solving. Negative behaviors can also be caused by a child’s “level of yuck,” as Rachel calls it. If a child is tired, hungry, sick, scared, or in any other form of discomfort (afraid or frustrated or overwhelmed) the brain interprets it as a threat. This fight-or-flight response is meant to protect us, but it can make kids (and adults) impulsive, self-centered, and narrowly focused. A prime opportunity for “bad” or unwanted behavior to happen!
  2. WHEN? Bad behaviors often happen when a child’s needs aren’t being met. This includes biological needs like sleep, food, and a safe environment as well as emotional needs. Children long for connection, they want to know they matter, they want to have the tools they need to be successful, they want to have a voice, and they want to know that they are safe. Rachel reminded the group that reasons for behavior are not excuses—in fact, they are crucial to helping parents understand a particular behavior and help their child change their behavior.
  3. HOW? A child’s bad behavior presents in three ways: They might “turn the ‘yuck’ out” on others (being aggressive, disrespectful or defiant); they might turn it in on themselves (feeling anxious, lacking self-esteem or low motivation); or they try to “numb the yuck” with things like electronics, food, etc. Thinking of these three categories of unhealthy behavior is a great way to better understand the specific behavior in question and how parents can best respond.
  4. WHAT NEXT? Parenting is not about making kids feel good all the time—that’s not realistic! Instead, Rachel encourages parents to “make deposits” in their kids as a response to the many withdrawals taken from them each day. Parents can deposit into their children’s “toolboxes,” teaching them skills to do things like clean up their toys, focus on homework, etc. Or they can deposit into their needs—mentioned earlier—by doing things like making sure their children are getting enough sleep (biological) or asking for their opinion on an important decision (emotional).

    “Yes, we’ll make withdrawals from our children,” acknowledged Rachel, like navigating a conflict with a sibling or telling them to finish their homework or manage a busy schedule, “but they’ll have this reserve to pull from when bad things happens—this is the core of resilience.”

For SCAN’s new fact sheets on Children’s Behavior, click here. You can also download an image of our Parenting Can Be Tough “diaper bag tags” that remind parents about some of the biological and emotional causes of behavior and help younger children communicate their feelings. 

 

SCAN Honors 2018 Ally in Prevention Award Winners

April 6, 2018 — SCAN celebrated the winners of its 2018 Ally in Prevention Awards at a luncheon today with help from NBC4’s Leon Harris, a SCAN Honorary Board Member, and Keynote Speaker Carine McCandless, New York Times bestselling author of the book, The Wild Truth.

The five honorees this year include:

Alexandria | Cindi Christensen, Alexandria CPS Hotline
Read more about Cindi’s award on AlexandriaNews.org or in TheZebra.org

Arlington | Cheryl Fuentes, Arlington County
Read more about Cheryl’s award in the Arlington Sun-Gazette online at InsideNova.com and at ARLnow.com

Fairfax | Bootsie Humenansky, SafeSpot Children’s Advocacy Center of Fairfax
Read more about Bootsie’s award in the Fairfax Sun-Gazette online at InsideNova.com

Loudoun | Dr. Judy Hanley, Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS)
Read more about Judy’s award in The Loudoun Tribune

 

Prince William | Jennifer Kooyoomjian, Prince William County Intensive Juvenile Probation Officer
Read more about Jennifer’s award in Prince William Living

SCAN also launched Year 2 of the 2018 Northern Virginia Child Abuse Prevention Campaign, Parenting Can Be Tough, at the awards luncheon.

NEWS: “Neurobiology of Trauma” Training in Loudoun on October 5th

September 13, 2016

loudounsummit_oct5soldoutTHIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT: SCAN, as part of The Loudoun Partnership for Resilient Children and Families, will present a training event on October 5th with trauma expert Dr. Chris Wilson. The event is intended for all community members, especially those who work with or interact with people who have suffered trauma, including law enforcement officers, child protective services professionals, commonwealth’s attorneys’ office staff, mental health providers, victim advocates, teachers, counselors and parents. The event is made possible with support from Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS), Loudoun Child Advocacy Center, Northern Virginia Health Foundation, Ronald McDonald Charities of Washington DC and SCAN of Northern Virginia. There is $25 registration fee for the event, which will take place from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM at the Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy in Ashburn, Va.

> To be added to a wait list for the event, please contact Tracy Leonard at tleonard(at)scanva.org.

> Download the event flyer here.

With more than 20 years of experience in the neurobiology of trauma, vicarious trauma, victim behavior, how to be trauma informed, and group process, Dr. Chris Wilson has worked with a wide variety of audiences. Dr. Wilson is currently a trainer for the United States Army’s Special Victim Unit Investigation Course, Legal Momentum, and You Have Options Program.

NEWS: SCAN to Host Sold-Out Workshop on Fathers: “Beyond Biological”

March 23, 2015

img_0399On March 25th, before its 13th Annual Allies in Prevention Awards, SCAN will host a morning workshop led by special guest LaMar Henderson, MSW, LICSW. The workshop, which is at maximum capacity, is titled: Beyond Biological: Preserving the Emotional Connection Between Fathers and their Children.” Mr. Henderson will also give the Keynote Address at the awards luncheon later in the day, where SCAN will launch its 2015 Northern Virginia Child Abuse Prevention Campaign and distribute materials from its Kids Need Connections campaign. If professionals are interested in attending a similar workshop later this year, please contact SCAN’s Public Education Manager Tracy Leonard at tleonard@scanva.org to express your interest.

SCAN