Redefining Oppositional and Challenging Behaviors

One of the goals of the Profectum conference  last month was to help parents and professionals expand their understanding of challenging behaviors in children. Connie Lillas described an optimal state of mental health as the “green” zone, a zone of calm awareness which supports learning and communicating.  Connie and I emphasized how important it is to understand that “oppositional or defiant” behaviors are often stress responses, a child’s reaction to her internal sensory, motor or emotional world.  It is essential to help children understand and develop an awareness between emotions and actions, and discoverr what they are telling us through their behaviors.

What you can do:

1. Stay calm and in the “green zone” as you help your child recover from the challenge

2. Model the ability to use words to describe feelingstates.

3. Assume that your child is feeling distressed and that the behavior has meaning.

4. Analyze the context of the behavior; that is, what may be causing the child to distress and why.

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