29. Look Below The Behaviours
When your child behaves in ways that are challenging, it’s often because something is missing in the relationship. It's likely that important connection or bonding needs are not getting adequately met. When connection needs are adequately met, your child wants to behave in ways that are helpful because they are motivated to maintain and add to the connection with you that they cherish. With this in mind, a very helpful approach to working with challenging behaviour is to focus mainly on improving the relationship and not so much on fixing the behaviour. Do more of the things that help relationships flourish: spend meaningful time together; play together; be attentive and responsive; give your full attention (put away the phone); listen, empathize and ask questions; express lots of appreciation; make clear agreements; do special or helpful things for your child; and be affectionate–plenty of healthy physical affection is essential for strong bonds (secure attachment). If you have a child that does not enjoy physical affection, focus on the other things.
There may be other aspects contributing to your child’s challenging behaviour (for example, conflict between parents can affect a child’s behaviour, or your child might be showing you parts of your shadow), but focusing on your bond with them is a great place to start.
I invite you to read the above Tip for the Road again while thinking of a adult relationship in your life that you are or have struggled with. See if there are ways in which attending to the relationship might help.