Seeing the Need Through the Challenging Behavior

photo of a mom and her little boy reading a book together and smiling My 4 year old son Evan woke up cranky today. Everything seemed to be a fight even as his siblings wanted to play with him. It was easy for me to see his behavior as annoying (I thought it was) and him just throwing a tantrum for no obviously good reason. But I had just completed 8 weeks of the Circle of Security parenting program and had new ways of understanding his experience. I remembered us talking about our kids’ “emotional cup” and making sure we keep filling it. A child throwing a tantrum or “being annoying” is the child communicating.

Then it occurred to me that his cup was probably running extremely low. I was working from the office yesterday and got home late. When I did, every child needed attention, but I was tired and hungry. I tried my best, but I didn’t have time to give each child as much as they needed.

Evan had been trying to show me all his lovely drawings from school, but there was always an interruption from his brother and sister and I couldn’t respond in the way he needed. As he started to act out this morning, I recalled the COSP Hands mantra – I needed to be Bigger, Stronger, Wiser and Kind. I needed to understand that his behavior, although difficult, was letting me know what he needed.

Instead of getting frustrated, I asked him if I could see his lovely work from school. The change in his mood was incredible. He immediately lit up as he took me through the pages, telling me about the shapes, colors and stories in his work. His brother and sister tried to interrupt, but this time I kept focused on Evan, asking the others to wait. It was enough to refill his emotional cup and made a big difference to our morning.

Seeing his behavior through the lens of the Circle offered me a different path forward – one where I didn’t feel so frustrated, and my son felt seen and connected.

Story shared by Tito Idakula, Parent

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