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Can’t I Discipline Without The Chaos?

Can't I discipline without the chaos?How many times have you asked yourself a similar question “Can’t I discipline without the chaos?”  “Can’t I be a more effective parent?” “I swore I would never parent like I was!”

You want the bad behaviour to stop, but you want to respond in a way that values and enhances your relationship with your children.  You want to build your relationship, not damage it.  You want to create less drama, not more.

How many times have you said I don’t want to discipline like I was?  I know I have quite a few times when I have thought goodness I sound like my mother.  But that is the only type of discipline I know and honestly it is the way that is promoted all the time.  So I feel like I have been at a cross road of how I want to discipline.

The word “discipline” comes directly from the Latin word disciplina which means teaching, learning and giving instruction.  However if discipline is meant to teach, most people associate only punishment or consequences.  Society tends to frown upon parents who do not simply punish their child when they misbehave.

Our children need to learn skills like inhibiting impulses, managing big angry feelings, and considering the impact of their behaviour on others.  Learning these essentials of life and relationships is what they need and if you can provide it for them, you’ll be offering a significant gift not only for your children, but to your whole family and even the rest of society.

It is time to begin to rethink what discipline really means, reclaiming it as a term that’s not about punishment and control, but about teaching and skill building – and doing so from a place of love, respect and emotional connection.  Since I changed my beliefs, put in my professional philosophy with behaviour management of children with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder, I am able to support them through their tough emotions and it has been amazing how quickly they calm when supported.

If you are sick of yelling, doing time out have a look at our program called Challenging Busting Behaviour  program or simply email me at and share how you want to start parenting your children.


Who is an Explosive Child?

Explosive ChildWho is an explosive child?  Explosive is a descriptive term for children who become frustrated far more easily and more often and communicate their frustrations in ways that are far more extreme than ordinary children.


However a simple label does not begin to capture the upheaval, turmoil, trauma that outbursts cause.  These outbursts affect each member of the family.

How do we start to help an explosive child?

The explosive child or behaviourally challenging children need us to take a close look at our own beliefs about challenging behaviours.  This is an extremely challenging task to do alone because to do it successfully you have to really question your beliefs.  Your beliefs come from how you were raised, what you think about how to deal with challenging children and what messages that you are receiving from the community.  We have so many people offering suggestions on how to handle an explosive child.

Nevertheless what happens if you are being told something different to what you believe in how to help an explosive child?  This is not easy to do by yourself as it can feel like a tug of war inside it and we usually resort back to what we already know.

However, for parents who have an explosive child, they are usually asked to apply strategies that are often a far cry from ways to which most adults interact with and discipline children who are not behaviourally challenging.  You will also hear plenty of suggestions and opinions which can be challenging for families.

Nevertheless, one of the most important parts on handling an explosive child is actually understanding why they behave as they do.  The more accurate that your understanding can be, by itself, leads to improvements in your interactions with your child, even before any formal strategies are tried.

By understanding from your child’s point of view rather than just an adult’s assumptions is half the battle in reducing explosive outburst.

Always remember that a child will be successful if they have the tools to be successful.


Are You Overwhelmed by your Child’s Behaviour?

Overwhelmed by your child's behaviour

Are you overwhelmed by your child’s behaviour?

Are you wondering why nothing is working?

Do you feel that no one is listening?

One of the hardest things to do is seek help when you are feeling helpless and lost due to your child’s behaviours.  You did not receive a manual for your child when they were born and the majority of behaviour management techniques that you know are based on your own childhood and how you were raised or from helpful professionals that you have been seeing in relation to your child.

As we already know children with Autism’s brains are wired differently from neuro-typical children.  Research is also showing that individuals who participate in “destructive” behaviour brain’s are also wired differently.  Therefore if individual’s brains are wired differently, can we use the same behaviour management techniques that conventional wisdom suggests even though it continually fails our family unit?

You might be thinking that you have tried everything possible to help your child’s behaviour and that you do not want any more suggestions.  Are you still overwhelmed by your child’s behaviour?

It's time to stop blaming parent's for challenging children

Dr Ross Greene Collaborative and Proactive Solutions approach is an evidence based, proven approach to understanding and helping challenging children at home, school etc.  This approach gives parents, teachers and caregivers more understanding on:

  • Why is this child acting out this way?
  • How come what works for other children does not work for mine?
  • What can I do instead?

Throughout my work as an Applied Behaviour Therapist, I always looked at WHY the child was responding the way they were.  There is always a reason for a child’s behaviour and it may not be what you are assuming.

With Collaborative and Proactive Solutions therapy, you will come up together with all the reasons for your child’s behaviours and by knowing exactly what will trigger your child’s challenging behaviours, you will reduce the unwanted behaviours.  Believe me know amount of time outs, taking electronic equipment is going to fix the problems.  If anything you are more likely to increase the unwanted behaviours.

I have been using this technique on my girls for a while now and once you get your head around it and get lots of practice you will see an immense change.  Not only will the challenging behaviours that you are overwhelmed with decrease, you will be communicating with your child at a different level, you will know your child better than ever and you will have a closer relationship.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your child’s behaviour, you do not need to feel like this anymore.  If you would like to know more about my Challenging Behaviour Busting Program.

Rebecca is a Family Relationship Coach for Families with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder.  She facilitates Dr Ross Greene Collaborative and Proactive approach.  Rebecca runs workshops, webinars and privately consults with families.  Rebecca lives in Melbourne and happy to help interstate families through Skype and other platforms. Email: 




The Key is Understanding Your Child’s Behaviour!

The Key is understanding your child's behaviour


The key is understanding your child’s behaviour!

So many parent’s say “I don’t know how to stop my child’s behaviours.”  They go on to explain their child’s behaviours in great detail.  However, the actual behaviour is not important.  The key is understanding your child’s behaviours. A lot of parent’s get stumped when I say this because they are simply focused about the behaviours.

To help parent’s to understand their child’s behaviours, I ask them to talk about an example for a particular challenging behaviour.  The parent then goes into detail of the behaviour the child displayed.  I then ask what happened before the behaviour occurred.  The common answer is “I do not know” or “it happened for no reason”.  I probe with more questions to narrow it down for instance was it a request that you gave them? Did you tell the child to do something?  Were they playing a game?  Was it a sensory issue? As the percentage of families have children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder, it is extremely important to look at the sensory areas because some behaviours can be caused due to a sensory issue.  However even with families that do not have a child with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder, it is still important to look at the sensory areas because the child may have mild issues that they are unaware of.

The key is understanding your child’s behaviours from a cognitive sense.  If we look at a scenario of a child expressing challenging behaviour when receiving an instruction it is important to look at the whole picture from a cognitive angle.  The majority of behaviours are due to lacking of skills.  The major areas, which then are broken down into smaller steps, are flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem solving.  If your child is having difficulties in these areas, it is important that behaviour strategies support your child to move through these challenges without the unwanted behaviours.

Conventional methods of behaviour management does not work for all children and just with that thought it can be extremely challenging.  I thoroughly enjoy working with families to assist with parent’s to help their children to reduce these behaviours as it will improve their families overall well being.

Your child can be successful but at this moment they do not have the skills to be successful.  The key is understanding your child’s behaviour.  If you want to know more check out my Challenging Behaviour Busting program.



Challenging Children and Frustration Tolerance

Frustration tolerance

Do you have a challenging child and frustration tolerance?

Behaviourally challenging children need us to take a close look at our beliefs about challenging behaviours and apply strategies that are often a far cry from ways in which most adults interact with and discipline children who are not behaviourally challenging.

As an applied behaviour analyst therapist, we learnt that there is always a reason for their behaviour and that you had to understand what was the antecedent (the cause) of the behaviour.  Ross Greene also states that “behaviourally challenging children are challenging because they are lacking the skills to not be challenging” (Ross, G.  The Explosive Child).

One of the skills that challenging children lack is frustration tolerance.  Challenging behaviour occurs when the demands being placed upon a child outstrip the skills he/she has to respond to.

What is Frustration?

Frustration is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get frustrated, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and nor-adrenaline.

Frustration can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be frustrated at a specific person (such as a co-worker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a cancelled flight), or your frustration could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger feelings of frustration.
The instinctive, natural way to express frustration is to respond aggressively. Frustration is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviours, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of frustration, therefore, is necessary to our survival.

On the other hand, we can’t physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our frustration can take us.
Children and adults use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their feelings of frustration. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your feelings of frustration in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express frustration. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
Frustration can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your frustration, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your frustration and convert it into more constructive behaviour. The frustration in this type of response is that if it isn’t allowed outward expression, your frustration can turn inward—on yourself. Frustration turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.
Unexpressed frustration can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of frustration, such as passive-aggressive behaviour (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. Children and adults who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their frustration. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.
Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behaviour, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.
Frustration for individuals of all stages on the Spectrum and Sensory Processing Disorder can be triggered in so many different ways it is extremely important for parents’ to stop focusing on the actual behaviours and work out what the difficulties are so that they can solve the unsolved problems.   By doing this, not only will unsolved problems be solved but your child will increase their frustration tolerance level and the challenging behaviours will decrease.
Frustration tolerance can be improved with the following strategies:
  • relaxation
  • body regulation
  • deep breathing
  • visualizations
  • changing your thinking
  • problem solving
  • better communication
  • using humour
  • changing environments
  • body mapping

I Don’t Like Writing!

I Don't Like WritingI don’t like writing!

How many times have you heard this?  I hear this quite often especially from Emma.  It is school holidays in Victoria, Australia and Emma brought home a letter writing sheet to do.

I did all the warnings before saying that we were going to do the sheet and prior to completing the task she was looking forward to doing it and she kept reminding me that she had not done it yet.

Nevertheless, today was the day and goodness I copped the “I don’t like writing” both barrels.  She threw herself under the table and just started saying “NO I’m not doing it.”  I took the tact of reminding her that her writing is lovely and I searched for examples of how neat her writing actually is.  She has had lots of help from her Occupational Therapist and we do it also at home.

She got up on the chair again, looked at the work and yelled “I don’t like writing.”  She proceeded to throw the sheet and pencil and gave me an angry look.  I thought to myself “no I am not going to reprimand her for throwing things” and just said “what is up?”  She looked at me with daggers and said “I don’t like writing” and she went and curled up on the small trampoline.  I watched her heavy breathing and debated to leave it or keep going.”

So I asked her “what are you having difficulty with (in regards to writing)?”

Her reply:  “I can’t write the letters.”

So then I asked “Is it that you don’t know where to start the letters?”

She gave me the mum don’t be stupid look and yelled back “I don’t like writing!”

We sat there for about 30 seconds in silence and all I could hear was her hard breathing.

Then I said “what do you need”

She then said quite calmly “I need Jessie.” Jessie is our Golden Retriever.

I then asked her “Will Jessie help you to write or calm down?”

She said “to calm down”.

Now I do not know who is harder to call to come here, the girls or the dog.  Ten times she had to be called.  So then Emma then spent some time patting the dog.  Then she was willing to get back up on the chair. Emma commenced doing the writing task and then threw the pencil again. “I don’t like writing” she yelled.

I asked her “what is hard?”

Emma replied “I can’t do the lower case letters.”

By the end of the first line, Emma gained her confidence and completed the sheet and was happy with her work.  She even showed Dad when he arrived home.

Instead of imposing adult consequences on Emma which I knew were only going to make things worse, I simply started asking her questions to find out what was causing the behaviour.  I already knew that she could do it as even her teacher made a comment to me about how neat her writing had become.  But I needed Emma to voice what the issue is.  Together we helped each other through the task and both of our needs were met.  Emma completed the task and for Emma she was proud with her work.

She had to complete the other side as well and when I said it was time to do the task off she went and completed it.  There are always reasons for behaviours and instead of assuming what the problem was from an adult perspective, I had to find out what was so hard from her perspective.


Why is My Child Behaviourally Challenging?

Why is my child behaviourally challenging? Have you ever said “My child is so manipulative, attention-seeking, unmotivated, stubborn, willful, intransigent, bratty, spoiled, controlling, resistant, out of control, and defiant. Perhaps even: they are skilled at testing limits, pushing buttons, coercing adults into giving in, and getting their way?

Dr Ross Greene in his book “The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children” explains that research is showing that behaviourally challenging because they’re lacking skills to not be challenging.

For a lot of parent’s this may be hard to get their head around.  However since studying Applied Behaviour Analysis, I have always come from an angle that there is always a reason for a child’s behaviour.  Sometimes the antecedent (before the behaviour) can be difficult to pick at the start because we are more focused on reducing the behaviour.  However we can not reduce the behaviour without understanding what is causing the behaviour.

But my child is always challenging?  The majority of children are not challenging from the second they wake up to when they go to sleep.  The majority of children have times throughout that they are coping and enjoying their activities.

Challenging children often lack the skills of flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem solving skills.  This is where the majority of challenging children have the most difficulty, is when they need to apply these skills.

When does your child need to have these skills?

  • Every time an adult gives your child a directive.
  • Interacting adaptively with everyone that they interact with.
  • Handling disagreements.
  • Completing hard homework tasks.
  • Dealing with change of plan.
  • Dealing with different environments.

When you really look at it so much in our life depends on handling the above skills.  Understanding the why they behave the way they do can, by itself, lead to improvements in your interacting with your child, even before any formal strategies are tried.

For a child on the Autism Spectrum and with Sensory Processing Disorder, they can be overloaded from their environments and needing to use the above skills which usually is the cause of the sensory overload.  By looking at all of these factors within the above skills, will reduce the sensory overload as we look at closely at times when it causes the majority of sensory overloads.

The challenge for parents is that they need us to look at our beliefs about challenging behaviours and apply strategies that are often a far cry from ways in which most adults interact with and discipline children who are not behaviourally  challenging.

This is not an easy process and in the Emotion and Behaviour Busting Program, together we will break this area down so that you are no longer guessing what is causing your child’s behaviour.  This is so important for parent’s because your child does not want to be behaving the way they are and they need us to help them to develop the above skills.