When our child has a challenging behavior, we are quick to react.
Maybe we feel frustrated or embarrassed. Maybe we’re in a public place or at a family event. Maybe we are thinking he knows just how to push my buttons!
We then feel that pressure. The pressure we get from family members, the media, parents of classmates, and our culture.
Society tells us that our kids are supposed to be well-behaved, polite – you know, perfect.
I’ll tell you one thing is for sure. No family is perfect. To strive for perfection is to set yourself up for failure. What each family deserves, however, is a peaceful home in which each person thrives. That’s the goal that we help families reach at Project Bond.
Challenging behavior is a frequent obstacle for all families. The first step in addressing the behavior is to put aside all the messages we’re fed, take a breath, and recognize that behavior is an iceberg.
Especially with our kiddos, behavior is only the tip of what’s going on underneath the surface.
What’s underneath each behavior is trauma.
Specifically, most of our kiddos have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE). According to the Center for Youth Wellness, ACEs are “traumatic experiences [in childhood] that can have a profound effect on a child’s developing brain and body with lasting impacts.” Trauma is defined as any real or perceived threat of death or personal injury.
There is a ton of research on how ACEs impact a child’s brain and overall functioning. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris highlights this research and its implications in her TED Talk (below).
Now, you may be thinking…
Why does this matter when I am about to lose it in the grocery store? Why does this matter when I am so utterly exhausted with all of my son’s behaviors?
It matters because the more we know, the better we can intervene.
It matters when we consider behavior in the classroom, Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and grades. It matters when we are giving our kiddos medication. Traditional approaches do not work. ACEs should be considered by professionals offering diagnosis and treatment. For example, it may not be ADHD, it is probably trauma.
The past is very much alive and a part of our kiddos.
It’s all there; present underneath the water.
It’s our job to not ignore it.
Tell us – what does the tip of the iceberg look like for your child? What do you think might be under the surface? Leave a comment!
Want more information on managing behavior? Our Taking Control Without Losing Control Online Workshop is coming!