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Behavior As An SOS?

Updated: Sep 27, 2018

I got an email from a parent today about some challenges she’s having with her 4 year old son and almost 3 year old daughter. In her words, “They seem to be behaving fine at school, according to teachers, but they are very disrespectful and defiant at home.”

She’s not alone, is she? And I know from experience that this situation is not limited to younger kids!

When behavior at home differs so much from behavior at school, it can be wicked confusing and frustrating! It can also set up a pattern of daily power struggles.

Here’s the thing. I believe behaviors like disrespect and defiance are an SOS not an attack. This understanding can re-frame your child's behavior from being the PROBLEM to being the CLUE and empower you to help your child.

Think back to the movie, The Wizard of Oz. The wizard appears as a big, loud, scary, head, accompanied by fire. As Dorothy and her friends cower shaking before him, the little dog, Toto, pulls the curtain open. Behind the curtain is the “real” wizard who is small, scared and insecure.

The difference between the scary wizard head and the little man behind the curtain is like the difference between your child’s behavior and your child. In other words, behind your child’s big, sometimes scary behavior is your “real” little child feeling overwhelmed.

For many kids, school can be a socially, emotionally and intellectually demanding environment that takes everything they have to navigate. By the time they get home, they’re hungry, tired, overwhelmed and spent - and they act out to communicate this.

When you “Open the Curtain,” you change your focus from trying to control or curb the behavior to addressing what’s driving the behavior. This allows you to feel more connected to your child and I believe solutions will present themselves to you more readily.


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