A few years back I had a client whose daughter was was so demanding and clingy while she tried to make dinner and it was so hard for her that several times she had to resort to giving up on dinner and order pizza instead! Can you relate?!
And what does this kind of behaviour really mean?

Sometimes there’s a physical or environmental reason behind our kids behaviour but most often the issues behind the behaviour are actually emotional. So when we find our kids ‘attention seeking‘ I find it really helpful to reframe it in our mind as connection seeking. They need some help with their emotions.

So in the case of your little one demanding your attention, wanting you to come and play and pulling at your legs while you try and make dinner, what can you do to support her emotionally, without getting frustrated, angry or resentful AND still get the dinner made?

You could…

A. Give in and play even though you feel resentful and the dinner won’t get made

B. Lose your patience, yell, get angry and frustrated 

C. Get down to their level, offer eye contact and acknowledge what you think your child is feeling, “I can see that you really, really want me to play and you’re frustrated that I’m making the dinner instead. I’m here, I’m listening.”

Now, when you go with C you’re offering an opportunity for your child to release some of those bottled up emotions that are behind the agitated, demanding type behaviour (see graphic above). So it’s likely that when you respond this way your child will cry, get angry or have a tantrum in response.

This might seem counter productive at first, and I know that it can be frustrating, because you’re tired too and you want to move things along to bath time, dinner time etc, but having a cry/ tantrum with your emotional support means your child is feeling emotionally safe and now able to release anything they may have bottled up. Afterwards, you’ll notice that they feel much calmer, more settled and able to relax for sleep later in the evening too

I don’t want to make it sound easy, but it definitely makes more sense to me than having to deal with those challenging behaviours at the top of the iceberg night after night. As you practise with this approach and observe the results for yourself in your own child’s behaviour, you’ll become more confident with it. If you’d like to learn more about his approach click the image below to download my free eBook, it’s jam-packed with tips to support you.

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