Understanding how children tick: managing challenging behaviours

One thing I’m often asked by readers, both on Facebook and twitter, is if I’ll explain the behaviour management programme Mike and I use in our fostering a little more depth. Though for various reasons, I can’t elaborate on the specifics of our programme (among other reasons, this is important to protect the childrens’ identities) I have been doing a bit of googling and found a link to a website which contains all sorts of nuggets about how you can help shape your own child’s behaviour in a similar way. It’s from an American site, so some of my friends in the USA might already be familiar with it  – do let me know if you are! – but, of course, as we all know, childrearing presents the same challenges wherever you are in the world, doesn’t it?


It’s also a short, very achievable list of strategies – no rocket science here, I promise – that, once adopted and stuck to (sticking to any strategy, rather than chopping and changing strategies, is one of the keys to it being successful) can result in positive changes to all aspects of your child’s behaviour.


Click here to see it – and take a look around as well.  There’s lots of other helpful information on the site, on many aspects of child development. But one thing I’d add – and this is something Mike and I are always mindful of whenever we are asked to care for a new child – is the importance of really getting to know the child in question first. Something that might not be applicable if it’s your own child you are dealing with, but if you work in the care system, this is really worth considering, as something generic will be far less appealing.


Of course, you can’t really do this till you’ve lived with them for a while, but, as you’ll know if you’ve read the books in which I’ve mentioned it, when circumstances permit, we always try to find out as much as we can about their likes and dislikes, what makes them happy and makes them sad, and so on so that when we build a programme for them to follow it’s properly tailor-made.


For example, if it’s a boy, and he’s mad about football, place your programme within that framework; if he needs to work his way up to earning better privileges (by modifying his behaviour, obviously) have him start in Division three and have him work his way up to promotion to the top of the premier league. At the end of the programme, particularly if he’s going to be with you for a while, you could have him winning the world cup and being presented with a trophy – which you can of course go and get personally engraved for him.


Similarly, if it’s a girl, and she loves all things X Factor (a long running talent show in the UK and now US), or Britain’s Got Talent, her programme could be designed around auditions, then boot camp, then ‘live shows’ and semi-finals, after which – and the possibilities are endless – you could maybe make her end of programme treat a session in a local recording studio, say.

The main thing is that it’s all about putting the child at the centre of everything with two words – self-esteem – always at the forefront of your mind.


There’s another list on the same website that really gets to the heart of this. It’s aimed at parents with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), and their teachers and carers, but when you look through the list – which is of 24 little strategies that can really make a difference – it’s clear that most could apply equally to any vulnerable, challenged, boundary-breaking child. Remember, what they most want and need is to be able to control themselves and function positively – and taking control of your choices (as a result understanding that actions have consequences, and that good relationships are the reward you get by considering others) is what builds self-esteem above all else.


Anyway, I do hope this proves helpful. And if you’d like to ask my anything further, perhaps to clarify anything mentioned, or to share your own experiences, please do get in touch, either here or over on facebook where our lovely digital community meets regularly!


Love C x