January 22, 2020

Raising the Challenging Child

About Raising the Challenging Child by Karen Doyle Buckwalter, Debbie Reed, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine: 

What's the worst you've ever faced as a parent? An all-out tantrum at the mall? A son who won't take out his earbuds to listen to you? A daughter who's failing at school and won't do her homework? A teen who constantly breaks curfew? A call from the police? Whatever you're dealing with, Raising the Challenging Child will help.

Building on their work at Chaddock, a nonprofit organization that has worked with some of the most challenging kids in the nation for more than 150 years, the authors empower frustrated parents with practical tips and real-life examples on how to

- minimize behavioral meltdowns
- reduce conflict
- increase cooperation
- promote healthy attachment
- improve family relationships

The strategies they share work both for the child who is going through a difficult phase brought on by life disruption or trauma, and for the child who faces chronic struggles. Parents, teachers, and those who work with children and youth will find positive, practical steps they can start taking today in order to understand and address the baffling behavior of the child under their care.

My Thoughts: If you had asked me a year ago I would have said I didn't need this book, but now I would say, without hesitation, Yes! I need to read this book! My kids are all very different. My daughter is sweet, eager to please, but can melt down with little notice over seemingly nothing at all. My youngest son has had an attitude since the day we met him at 1 month old, and while he's an easy going guy, when he gets mad, he refuses to do anything and stubbornly holds his ground with a scowl on his face. And my oldest son is silly and funny but he loves to get a rise out of people by doing the exact thing they asked him not to do. So like I said, they're all very different, and present different parenting challenges, which is why a book like this is so helpful. 

With my oldest son, my reaction is a reward to him; it's what he wants, so when I stay calm and ignore the behaviors they eventually lessen. He craves the attention whether it is positive or negative. So now that we know what's driving the behaviors, we can address it. The book says be sure not to "withhold affection" for misbehavior, which we don't do, but we tell him he can have a hug when he has calmed down, and that we still love him, just not his behavior. Giving him positive attention when he does the right thing hopefully fills his need for attention so he won't feel the need to act out and get negative attention as often.

My youngest son wants to have his way or nothing at all. For example if he gets mad because he can't have the blue crayon, he will say "Then I don't want anything!", so when that happens, we stick to what he says, and give him nothing just like he said. He gets upset and says he changed his mind, but we're teaching him that he needs to think  before he says things, instead of talking in anger.  We're modeling to him using feeling words, and taking a break before we answer and explain that we're thinking first then talking. All useful tools for him to learn.

My sweet daughter has meltdowns when she hears she can't do something, or 5 minutes after we've said no to a TV show, or 15 minutes after we've told her it's time to clean up the crayons and get in the car for church. Sometimes the melt downs come out of nowhere, as they can be much later, so that makes it hard to find the cause for these events. Being patient and loving has been key to helping her communicating when these events happen.

The book had some really useful, practical tips and suggestions for parenting children who can sometimes be a challenge. Let's be honest though, who's child hasn't been a challenge at one time or another, right? We could all use this book! ;-)

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