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Course Correction: Transforming Challenging Behaviors Degree by Degree

body-informed parenting managing expectations reframing behaviors self-regulation Aug 29, 2022

As a parent, of a strong-willed, funny, smart, high-energy boy, I have found that the transition we’ve made, away from the “behavior management” approach to parenting, but this shift towards body-informed parenting and self-regulation, has been a gradual process, and highly impactful. It has changed everything. For the better.

But it is not a quick turn-around, an easy answer, with one specific tool or strategy that suddenly transforms our child into an easy-going, compliant, agreeable child.  It is a path we walk with every step…

I had previously worked for Semester at Sea, a study abroad program for college students, that puts about 500 college students on a cruise ship, along with faculty and staff, and “lifelong learners” (adult passengers), as well as the Captain, officers and crew, and sends them around the world for a semester, around three and a half months, visiting approximately 10 ports.

Through my two voyages, and then working for the home office, I learned that when someone goes overboard, the ship is not like a car! It cannot stop immediately and turn on a dime; it can take a good 5-10 minutes to slow down engines and start the turn, which needs to be smooth and long enough not to endanger those on board. So, the ship has most likely traveled more than a mile or two, by the time it has made the gradual turn, degree by degree, to “course correct” and head back to where the man overboard was last seen.

I feel like the journey to deeply understanding and integrating the body-informed parenting approach is much like that gradual course correction, degree by degree.

It is a very hard thing to grasp and make sense of in one workshop; I know that I can grasp “it’s not misbehavior, it’s stress behavior” as a key concept and my brain can understand it, and it can make a difference…

And yet, my entire worldview, my understanding of how the world works, the very lens through which I look at this infinite world we live in and the fact that everyone around me has this similar world view (of self-control/behavior management), so that new concept I have learned, implemented and now teach (self-regulation through body-informed parenting) is merely a key pivot in one long, gradual course correction. To fully understand self-regulation is a long, never-ending process of deepening and shifting our understanding of how the world works, how we, as humans, work…

It’s a big challenge for facilitators, because we simply can’t put on a presentation, workshop, and expect our listeners to walk away with entirely new mindsets, and new behaviors based on our new understanding.  And there isn’t one key strategy to teach; we honor the unique individuality of every child…and what works for one child, may not work for another.

Ultimately, this body-informed parenting approach transforms our relationship with the body – discovering and then honoring the body’s role in our child’s behavior (and our own) and responding to excessive stress.

When our child is acting out in challenging ways, that behavior is telling us that he/she/they need our help in some way. Their behavior is communicating to us that they cannot handle what they’re expected to handle. It is not a choice their rational thinking mind is making on purpose, it is a response to excessive stress.

So we can answer the call of “man overboard”, the cry for help, and we can initiate the process for the course correction… degree by degree…

Enjoy this free Masterclass in the most important paradigm shift in parenting today:  away from the outdated and ineffective "behavior management" approach, to the body-informed parenting approach to self-regulation. 

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