Home    |   SEL & Behavior   |   Challenging Behavior   |   Responding to Challenging Behavior with Openness and Curiosity

Responding to Challenging Behavior with Openness and Curiosity

Aug 20, 2020    |   Challenging Behavior

In our work with young children, it is inevitable that we will encounter challenging behavior. In these moments of stress and frustration, you might notice how easy it is to jump to judgement or even anger, despite your best intentions. ZERO TO THREE recently shared an article challenging us to avoid judgement by shifting our perspective during times of stress — a message especially relevant now, as the pandemic continues.

As much as children learn from us, we can also learn a lot from them. Their sense of wonder and curiosity can spark a sense of joy and discovery in each of us.  In the same way,  we as adults can be more child-like in moments of stress, letting go of judgements and maintaining a sense of openness, we can avoid negative feelings and find opportunities for growth, discovery, and deeper relationships.

A few tips from ZERO TO THREE are included below.

  • Slow down and breathe. It’s easier to think openly when we are not rushing.

  • Look closely and listen carefully to what’s actually happening — notice the child’s emotions. Notice how you are feeling.

  • Frame your thinking about your child’s behavior by using wondering statements:

    • I wonder if…he’s feeling scared about going back to child care

    • I wonder why…she’s starting to wake up at night

    • I wonder how…he’s feeling about Grandma leaving after a two-month visit

  • Practice wondering with a reflection exercise.

    • Write down a judgment you sometimes make about a child: Daniel always throws tantrums to get his way, or about yourself: I never have enough patience. Read this aloud and notice how you feel inside.

    • Then, turn that judgment statement into three different wondering statements: I wonder if Daniel tantrums more when he is tired. I wonder how I can help Daniel learn to express his frustration in more acceptable ways. I wonder how I can let Daniel know I’m there for him when he’s upset. Now read the wondering statements aloud and notice how you feel inside. You may feel calmer, more peaceful, and more compassionate.

ZERO TO THREE’s article reminds us that when we practice reflective wondering, it helps us remember to bring an open and curious attitude into our daily activities with children.

“Children’s behaviors are always related to their feelings, needs, and desires. Replacing judgment with wondering gives us an opportunity to learn and understand…With a deeper understanding comes a stronger bond.”

Click here to read the full article.

Related Articles & Posts

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This