Successful Parenting Tip: How To Manage Your Child's Challenging Behaviour Without Losing Your Cool

Successful Parenting Tip: How To Manage Your Child’s Challenging Behaviour Without Losing Your Cool

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Managing your child’s challenging behaviour without losing your cool is every conscious parent’s desire, and if there were to be a magic wand or portion to make this happen, it would instantly be SOLD OUT!

Let’s delve right into it!

How do you manage your child’s challenging behaviour without losing your cool as a parent?

We know that any battle is half won when conquered in the mind, and as the saying goes, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

As adults, we are responsible for our actions and our emotions. Nonetheless, we can’t control or change how our children behave.

Howbeit, we can try to understand them – who they are and what makes them tick, and navigate through those behaviours that “WE” find challenging (not our child) without losing control.

Behaviour Is A Form Of Communication

Successful Parenting Tip: How To Manage Your Child's Challenging Behaviour Without Losing Your Cool
Behaviour Is A Form Of Communication

It’s often said that “BEHAVIOUR IS A FORM OF COMMUNICATION”, and rightly so.

60% of communication, whether good, bad or indifference, are a clear expression of our feelings and needs.

Thus, all behaviour has a functional element.

Challenging behaviour is communicating unmet needs. For example, you might label a child naughty, unmotivated, offensive, aggressive, loud and so on, without decoding what the child is trying to communicate.

That is why when a child is behaving in a way that challenges us, we should be asking ourselves why they are acting that way.

 We should also want to know why we are receiving their behaviour with negative emotions.

Just this morning, I was reminded that my disposition influences how I respond to my children.

I was tired and cranky and just needed that extra five minutes lay in.

For almost everything that the girls did, I had something negative to say.

Thankfully, I caught myself quickly and withdrew to recoup. Only then could I give my girls a better version of me.

After that, everything seemed to have reset like clockwork.

Behaviour Triggers

Successful Parenting Tip: How To Manage Your Child's Challenging Behaviour Without Losing Your Cool
Behaviour Triggers

When a child’s behaviour challenges us, we should endeavour to find out the origin or trigger of the behaviour and what the message behind it might be.

This will help us to understand the meaning behind their actions and prevent us from attaching labels to them.

Do I hear you ask what if there’s no trigger and the child is just deliberately trying to annoy or press your buttons?

I ought to be a millionaire by now, for the many times I’ve heard that question. The simple answer is there is always something only if you take time to observe and take note.

Also See: 7 Reasons Why It’s Important To Read To Your Baby

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Successful Parenting Tip: How To Manage Your Child's Challenging Behaviour Without Losing Your Cool

Three Approaches To Help You Understand Your Child’s Behaviour

There are three ways to help you understand your child’s behaviour, and they are:

The Internal Approach

Here you will be looking out for what’s going on inside their body or mind. You might need to play detective a bit.  

The cause of such behaviour could be hunger, feeling unwell, pain, mood, sensitivity, hormones and so on.

The External Approach

The externals are what’s going on around them that could be triggering the unwanted behaviour.

People around them, loud noise, clothes worn, demands placed on them and things like that could be trigger points.

The Interactional Approach

This is suitable for when a child is verbal. Here, you engage them in a conversation to get them involved in the process of change.

Potential Causes Of Challenging Behaviour

Successful Parenting Tip: How To Manage Your Child's Challenging Behaviour Without Losing Your Cool
Potential Causes Of Challenging Behaviour

Monitoring your child’s behaviour will help you better understand the cause of their behaviour.

These aren’t prescriptive or exhaustive:   

  • Feeling unwell or in pain
  • Hunger
  • Mood  
  • Sensitivity or sensory needs 
  • Hormonal changes may cause aggression  
  • Frustration at being told off, not being listened to or understood  
  • Feeling upset or distressed about something, perhaps change in routine
  • Depression, anxiety or even excitement (some children show these by biting their hands)
  • Boredom or lack of stimulation
  • Lack of understanding or awareness of the effect of their behaviour at the given time
  • Fear of where they are, what they are doing or even the people in their space
  • Seeking attention (any attention given, be it yelling or praise, is attention. Whichever is served will determine what results you’ll get

You can use this downloadable TARO model sheet to help you track triggers, the actions you took, and how your child responded.

In addition, you can assess what was going on at the time directly leading up to the incident, look for both the positive and the negative behaviours, and finally assess what worked well to calm your child and yourself down quickly.

T A R O is an acronym for Trigger, Action, Response and Outcome.

Five Tips To Help You Manage Challenging Behaviour

Successful Parenting Tip: How To Manage Your Child's Challenging Behaviour Without Losing Your Cool
Successful Parenting Tip

Here are five tips to help you manage your child’s challenging behaviour without losing your cool:

  • Once you have learnt the warning signs following the detailed observation of your child, depending on how young your child is, you can offer a distraction or take them somewhere that is calm and away from what might be causing the upset.
  • Acknowledge their frustration and show and tell them you understand. Be calm but assertive. Keep your face neutral, lower the volume and pitch of your voice.
  • Minimise the risk of them hurting themselves and keep them safe.
  • Be consistent and avoid confrontation.
  • Rewards and praise. Use descriptive praise when they get things, make the right choices or a beginning to calm down, for example, “I like the way you used your words to tell me you wanted the pink cup.”

Avoid Spiral Negativity

Often, we experience a vicious cycle that occurs when your child’s negative behaviour is not countered with positivity.

This spiral negativity in the behaviour of a child could be caused when the following happens:

– No intervention is tried because the child is seen as the problem.

– You try to cope by imposing penalties on your child.

– Your child is not comforted or assisted when behaviour becomes more intense.

– You, as a parent, feel more distressed and frustrated by the behaviour.


We all want to be accepted, engage in meaningful activities, be surrounded by people who care about us, be listened to, heard by others, and be loved.

Nobody wants to be ignored, abused, controlled, bored, ridiculed, restrained, manipulated or disliked.

This is also very true of our little and not so little humans.

So, let this be engrained in the tablets of our hearts so that when next we are about to react by losing our cool, we can catch ourselves quickly, adjust to the situation appropriately and respond in a gracious and supportive manner.

By so doing, we will be able to successfully navigate their web of emotions and manage any behavioural shortcomings without losing our minds.

Please leave your comments below.

Grace Adewale is a woman and mother on a mission to partner with parents to raise a holistic child.  She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Education with over 10 years of experience working with hundreds of children and parents in Nursery and Primary school settings.

She is a Holistic Child Strategist and a John Maxwell Parenting Coach. Visit Website

Grace Adewale

Grace Adewale

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