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And what if we viewed challenging behaviors as an SOS, and not an attack on us as parents? Might the outcome be any different? Challenging behaviors of a child, whether that child is 2, 12, 15, 17 or anywhere in between is a cry for help. Your child/teen is saying “I’m not okay and I need you to help me”. Now, they might be saying this while they are kicking you, taking money from your wallet, tearing the room apart, refusing to attend an important family function…all of those things that may feel like an attack on you as their parent, and yes, frankly, often on the rest of the family. It is so important to be able to first regulate yourself, so that you can help your child. Take a time out for you, for you to be able to respond rather than react. And yes, indeed this may be much easier said than done AND you do have to be sure that the child, in those instances of being physical, is not a danger to themselves or someone else. If your child had a physical condition, that could likely put all activity on hold at least for that time…an example would be a seizure disorder that doesn’t disappear within a matter of moments but lasts for what seems like a long time when you also have to factor in the time for your child to settle themselves after the experience of a seizure, which is both physical, emotional and yes social. If your child experiences seizures, you will have, prior to the seizure now happening, learned to settle yourself so that you aren’t reacting and making the child’s physical reactions, e.g. seizure worse. The seizure is definitely a loud SOS, and so are behaviors that arise out of a sense of helplessness because your child/teen has been triggered in their brain and cannot calm themselves. Remember, this (the behavior) is NOT about you and it isn’t a barometer of your love…it is all about your child. And when you are able to respond in this way others, other family members, friends, neighbors, even strangers, will be able to follow your lead. You can do this!

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