Change Your Behaviour

I’m going to ask you to do the biggest psychological stretch that you’ve ever been asked to do because this month I’m focusing on behaviour. I know from my work with families and young people in Hertfordshire, that often when there are behavioural problems in a family the young person is the person that gets the blame for it. Very often the fingers going to get pointed at you – you’re the one whose behaviour needs to change. I know that very often when there is challenging behaviour presenting it’s not just on you; it’s also about how the people around you interact with you.  We’re going to put together a plan that you’re going to give to somebody else to help them help you to change things so that you can get better. 

You might think that when you kick off there’s some fun in it, or that when you get angry there’s some control in it. Even though you might think that way, ultimately, deep down we both know that it doesn’t really make you feel all that good about yourself and I would like to help you to change that. 

We need to start working on changing the whole environment around you – be that at home or in your classroom environment. I’m going to help you to talk to the people that support you in this environment, and tell them what it is you need for them to do in order for them to help you settle down and manage your behaviour better. 

Here are just a few things to help us get started. We’re going to use anger as an example here, but these tips and tricks are applicable to all behaviours.

I want you to ask yourself the ‘if I get angry you should …’ and you’re going to fill in the gap with how you need the person in that situation to deal with it. You’re saying ‘if I get angry here’s how I need you to deal with that, here’s how I need you to respond to that’. Now, we’ve got to be realistic, and what I need you to do in order to really get your head around this and to make it work in the best possible way is you’ve got to think about what it is you would do if you were the adult in this situation. If you had a child that you were responsible for who was behaving the way you do, what would be the appropriate way for you to deal with that child would it be? For example: cancelling my break time or ban me from using my Xbox. What’s the thing that is going to work for you? What’s the thing that will make you go ‘oh okay, they really mean business, I need to stop this behaviour’? All of us need to know what the ground rules are. We all need to know when we’ve taken a step too far. It will feel uncomfortable for you at first but once you get through it and get used to it, it will really, really work for you. It will make such a big difference!

But why I’m asking you to take control of this and to do it for yourselves? If you take responsibility for it then it will feel a whole lot better than having these sorts of plans forced upon you. If we are forced into doing something we tend to resist the actions even further – even when it’s something we initially wanted to do! So by having a say and some control over the consequences we can accept them when they are implemented – even if it something that we don’t like. 

It is important that we work with the person in your life when setting up these consequences though. They might need to say ‘no, that’s not going to work and I think the punishment should be this, or I think the consequences should be this’. And if they say that you need to listen to them and maybe you can come to a compromise. You need to talk it through and share some other ideas around it until you reach a place where you can meet in the middle. It’s important that you at least get the conversation started! 

When we have these frameworks in place it makes a huge difference to how secure we feel and how loved we feel, and it means that then all of the interaction that you start to have with your teacher or your parent becomes about the positive stuff instead. It means that they have more time to let you know ‘well done’, it means that they have more energy to play with you, it means they have more like emotional space to be able to spend time with you and be loving towards you.

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