In the surf last weekend, a surfer in his 50s asked me about my occupation. When I told him I was a Headmaster, he voiced his surprise ‘a Headmaster and a surfer!’ He then exclaimed, ‘Bring back the cane!’ We chatted for another 10 minutes and I spoke with him about why the cane or punishment was not the solution to undesirable behaviour. Natural connected consequences yes, but not punishment with no consideration of the ‘back story’.
“When we see behaviour that is problematic or confusing, the first question we should ask is NOT ‘How do we get rid of this behaviour?’ but rather ‘What is this telling us about the child?” Mona Delahooke, Paediatric Clinical Psychologist
In her groundbreaking book, Beyond Behaviours, Dr. Mona Delahooke describes a child’s behaviour as the tip of the iceberg. Important signals that we should address by seeking to understand what lies beneath.
Behaviour is your child’s means of communication, and so considering his hidden needs (what I like to call the ‘back story’) rather than the behaviours, can be a game-changer. By showing him empathy, acceptance, understanding and kindness you are demonstrating to him that you are with him and for him.Last week, Dr Murray Wright (NSW Chief Psychiatrist) addressed families, particularly those with primary school-aged children, about COVID-19 lockdown distress. In his statements, he remarked, ‘Parents may notice behavioural changes in their children during lockdown including acting out, becoming clingy or withdrawing - but there are ways to help. I think it's reasonable, if there's any kind of change in behaviour in your school-aged children at this time, to assume that it's actually a statement of distress and take the opportunity to find out what's causing that distress…’