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Is Your Child Acting Out? The 4 'R's' That May Be Causing It

When your child starts acting out more intensely than before, have you ever noticed that your own stress levels prior to that moment were rising, too?
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John Gray with Anat Baniel: Tip 10 - When Your Child With Special Needs Starts Acting Out

When your child starts acting out more intensely than before, have you ever noticed that your own stress levels prior to that moment were rising, too? This is a something that I have seen again and again. When parents are experiencing a lot of tension inside themselves and they're trying to hold it together, it's like trying to hold the cover on a boiling pot. Children, particularly children with special needs, are very sensitive, and they'll pick up on that feeling, and it can cause them to go out of control. (See the chapter on enthusiasm in Anat Baniel's book, Kids Beyond Limits.)

It's important that you take time to find balance within yourself. That might mean taking turns as parents so that one can go off and get what they need in order to come back into a centered place. (See our previous tip: Men and Women Manage Stress Differently.)

It is also important to recognize that holding onto resentment is one of the most insidious ways of creating tension that children will react to and start to act out because they don't have the tools to deal with these feelings. They don't understand it and they'll just act it out.

The Four "R's" That Can Drive Your Child Crazy

You can increase your child's, your partner's and your own well-being by becoming aware of and avoiding the four "R's."

1. Resistance
First, we start to resist the situation. When we don't know how to communicate about our feelings to get what we need, it turns into:

2. Resentment
From unresolved resistance, the resentment starts to build, and then tension builds up even more. If we can't find forgiveness and resolve the problem, the second "R" -- resentment -- turns into:

3. Rejection
Rejection is a feeling that we generate. Whatever our partner does, it feels wrong. Whatever we want, they don't want to do. It's always this sense of opposites: I want this; you want that. We don't come together. And, when we are feeling rejected, our children will tend to never want to do what we would like them to do. I am not saying that this is always the reason for our children acting out. However, tension that builds up inside of us will dramatically affect our children and make it harder for them to function well. If this goes on for a while, the fourth "R" comes into play:

4. Repression
We simply repress the feelings because we feel powerless to do anything about them. We go numb and in our going numb, our children begin to act out our suffering.

It is so very important that you find ways to protect yourself and your children from such suffering by becoming aware of the four "R's," developing ways to communicate with your partner and getting the support you need so that you do well and thus, help your children do better. (Read our previous posts here.)

As I am sure you are fully aware, your child has enough challenges as it is. Here are some additional suggestions that you can try in order to avoid the four "R's." You may want to:

  • Learn to meditate
  • Do some physical activity that helps the brain calm down (see the Anat Baniel Method NeuroMovement programs)
  • See a therapist to support you and help you learn new ways of coping
  • Do some journaling
  • Join an online parenting support group that is committed to helping find ways to reduce stress while taking care of your child
  • Take a class in emotional intelligence

All of the above are processes in which you can learn to grow and differentiate emotionally so you can find powerful alternatives to your more automatic stress reactions, and thus provide greater support for your children.

WATCH: When Your Child With Special Needs Starts Acting Out
Tip #10 From John Gray

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Watch for our next video blog Tip #11 with John Gray: The Art of Asking for Help

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