Let me start by saying I do not like putting kids in boxes. Each child is unique, an individual, and a miracle in their own right.
But there are some common behavior challenges that once identified, can guide you towards finding the best ways to help your child.
In The Parent-Child Dance: A Guide to Help You Understand And Shape Your Child’s Behavior, I identify four common pediatric behavioral types:
This is the child who is reactive, rigid, and stressed. Any discomfort or change can set him off. Tantrums, rigidity, and hysteria ensue. This can be painful, embarrassing, and uncomfortable, as well as highly stressful for parents. Very often the parents and kids butt heads.
The “Princess and the Pea” Child
This is the child for whom the slightest unpleasant sensation is exquisite torture. A tag on the back of a T-shirt, a windy day, the ticking of a clock—the child experiences sensory input as painful and highly distracting. He or she may cry, withdraw, or become anxious.
The Heat-Seeking Missile
This is the child who needs highly-stimulating activity, the more rambunctious the better. He seems to thrive on disruptive or downright dangerous situations. With him, your heart is always in your throat.
The Squeaky Wheel
This is the child who lets you know what’s on her mind. Always. She will complain and cajole until you give up and give in. Talk, talk, talk.
I wanted parents to understand these behavior categories without using clinical, overly-technical terms that therapists use like co-regulation, tactile defensive, and so on. That’s why, for each behavior type, I give names that bring to mind the behaviors as well as lists of words and terms that will easily help you determine if your child’s behavior falls into one of the behavior types.
For each behavior type, I explain some of the underlying causes of the problem behaviors, and share real-life stories from clients who I treated for these issues. Then I give creative and often fun activities that are proven to help improve the behavioral challenges present in each type. These are activities designed specifically for the Child-on-the-Edge, the Princess-and-the-Pea, the Heat-Seeking Missile, and the Squeaky Wheel.
Sometimes, there is overlap. Your child might benefit from activities in more than one category. Or, you might want to try activities from a few behavior types. All the activities provide benefits, whether or not your child has behavioral challenges, sensory disorders, or other issues.
The activities, tips, and ideas in The Parent-Child Dance can be used as an adjunct to other therapies, or they can even be done on their own. Each activity comes with simple step-by-step directions so you can follow them easily. Many of the activities are illustrated so you can visualize them easily.
It’s helpful to parents to view their child’s behavior as a clue to what’s really going on inside. Once you understand your child’s challenging behavior is his way of expressing that something isn’t right within, we can begin problem-solve and find out what is really going on and how to attend to it. Once you’ve identified your child’s behavioral type you can begin the activities tailored to his type. These activities help his system learn to regulate in ways that are healthier for him and less stressful for you.
I’ll be blogging more about the four behavior types.