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How Behavior Is Like An Iceberg!

Updated: May 14, 2021

Today I want to talk to you about how picturing an iceberg can help you feel calmer in the face of frustrating and unwanted behaviors and more confident about how to respond in a way that is both more effective and feels more like the parent you want to be.

The understanding that behavior is communication is one of the core concepts of a parent-centric approach. (I got a little carried away playing with google drawings to illustrate this.)

So the behavior is what you see above the surface. Often it is where we find ourselves, as parents, reacting and trying to control.

However, anxiety, stress & overwhelm are churning around below the surface and driving the behavior.

Chipping away at the behavior, (with rewards and consequences, for instance,) might result in a temporary quick fix, if you’re lucky, but whatever is driving that behavior will just push up again. That’s why it feels like you’re constantly hitting your head into a brick wall.

The parent-centric alternative is to go below the surface and connect to your child where they are emotionally. When you bring your more regulated, calmer presence to connect rather than correct, you co-regulate your child. When they are no longer on their own with unmanageable feelings, their need to communicate through unmanageable behavior


Behavior needs to be addressed later when everyone has calmed down. Used consistently over time, this approach builds the resilience and emotional regulation skills your child needs for healthy emotional expression with words rather than behaviors.

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