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Don’t Beat Yourself Up!

One message I have constantly for parent’s is “Don’t beat yourself up!”  Parenting has its ups and downs for everyone. No parent is perfect no matter what they put up on social media.   There will be days where you have it all going perfectly.  There will be other days where everything is going wrong.  Who hasn’t had those days.

I had one of those days the other day.  I was not connecting with the children.  I was not looking at their triggers and focused on their behaviours.  By the end of the day, I just wanted to crawl into bed.  We all have those days.

Don’t beat yourself up!

Principles such as validating feelings first before correcting their behaviours, focusing on the positive while minimizing attention to the negative, and staying calm and collected in the heat of the moment are all what we strive for, not what we can expect all the time.

I have parents who feel guilty, even horrible, when they lose their cool, yell, threaten, or react before thinking.  These moments will happen occasionally.  If your goals are to focus on the positive, understand and validate, set clear boundaries, and minimize emotional responses to negative behaviour, then this is what you need to keep focused on.

Don’t beat yourself up!

Relax, take a deep breath, and pat yourself on the back for what you are doing right. Nevertheless, always remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.


Do You Dismiss Emotions?

Do you dismiss emotions by saying the following:

  • Only girl’s cry…………..
  • You will be alright………….
  • Cheer up…………..
  • You should never be angry…………

These types of comments have been past down from generation to generation as a lot of our parenting is based on our past experiences.  I remember with my family we were encouraged not to show our emotions and just deal with it.  When my dad passed away I remember my mum saying “I don’t want you crying at the funeral as you will embarrass me.”  This was how she was parented and it was all that she knew.

Many parents frequently use this approach with their kids, not realizing that there is a better way to manage.  This type of parenting is called Emotion Dismissing or Emotion Disapproving Parents.  If you think that you are doing this, don’t fret because I have to admit that I did that until I learnt that there is a better way to manage emotions.  We can learn better ways so that you do not dismiss emotions anymore.

Emotion dismissing parents are usually not cruel or mean spirited people.  They are often loving, warm and concerned, but are uncomfortable with intense emotions.  They prefer the neutral state and like others to be calm and reasonable.  They dislike anger, rage, sadness, despair.  They are also uncomfortable with intense positive emotions.   It means that you have the best intentions, but are missing opportunities for guidance and connection with your children.

Characteristics of Emotion Dismissing Parents:

  1. They don’t notice lower intensity emotions in themselves or their kids.
  2. They see negative emotions as toxic and want to protect their children from them.
  3. They want kids to be able to change emotions quickly.
  4. They may punish a child or put them in a time out just for being angry, even if there is no misbehaviour.
  5. They prefer cheerful children and want their kids to focus on the positive.  They distract or try to cheer up their kids when they have negative emotions.
  6. They don’t have a detailed vocabulary for emotions.
  7. They want reason to control emotion, therefore are uncomfortable with strong emotions.

I learnt to face my emotions when I was recovering from severe postnatal depression.  I also void that I wouldn’t ignore my child’s emotions.  When they are having a meltdown I am usually silent for a while.  I would encourage you to just sit there for a while whilst your child is upset and just be present.  When they start to calm down I label the emotions that they are feeling and find a good 90% of the time just labelling the emotion helps them to calm down.

When my girls hurt themselves I acknowledge that it would hurt and I would have cried.  I acknowledge when they are angry and help them to express their anger in more appropriate means if they are hurting others.

By making a conscious effort to change the way I manage my own emotions and help through their emotions, I am building a stronger relationship with my girls and sending the message that no matter what happens in life, I am there for them.

If you want to receive help in emotion coaching head over to my Challenging Behaviour Program.  If you want to just do an Emotion Coaching program that can easily be arranged to suit your needs.  Simply drop me an email at


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: 




Beating the Effects of Bullying

Beating the effects of bullyingFor those who already have read recent posts, you would know that Grace has gone through four years of bullying.  We are always focused on ways of beating the effects of bullying for Grace.

Tonight she came to me crying about not wanting to go to school because she always is wondering what she will face tomorrow.  She has always had this type of thinking since Grade 1 and it can be challenging to keep her beating the effects of bullying on a daily basis.

For those who know Grace is 9.  I have tried this visualisation piece in the past but it has never helped.  However, I thought that I might give it another go as she is older and her imagination is always developing.

We had our forehead touching and I asked her to close her eyes.

I asked her to imagine that she has a balloon in her hand.

I asked her what colour it was and she said light pink, however she did change it later to a Katy Perry balloon.

I told her to blow the balloon up until it surrounded her (she groaned at thinking she had to blow the balloon up that big).

I said to her no matter what bad thing comes to you through mean words, pins to pop your balloon, they will never pop your balloon.  The only thing that can get through your Katy Perry balloon are kindness, love and happy thoughts and things (she made sure her teddy bear was able to get through).  No matter what bad things may come they just bounce off your balloon and it will never pop. 

At first she then was more interested in brushing her teeth as I broke the routine.  But by the time she reached her bed, she was thinking more about it as she asked is her balloon still around her when she was asleep.

A great vision piece for children when they are beating the effects of bullying.


Autism and Bullying

Autism and bullying

Individuals with Autism are affected by bullying!

A common myth in society is that individuals with Autism do not want to have friends.  If society believes that individuals with Autism do not want friends, then they would also not be affected by bullying.

Individuals with Autism are affected by bullying!

Another myth that society has is that individuals with Autism do not have emotions.  If people with Autism do not have emotions, then they can not possibly be affected by bullying because they are oblivious to it.

Individuals with Autism are affected by bullying!

I have been watching what four years of bullying has done to my daughter and if either of the above myths were true, my daughter would not be affected.  I totally understand the situation which the other girl is causing her to act out.  Her life is extremely hard and she feels that she needs to control all those around her.

Nevertheless this is not fair for my daughter to go through.  I have dealt with challenging children throughout my career, but sadly this girl puts challenging at such a different level.  But my daughter has been forgotten throughout it all.

My daughter has Autism.  She wants to have friends.  She knows what personal qualities she wants to develop.  But for her to come home one day and ask “why can’t I be nice to everyone?”.  This really broke my heart.  She does not want to go to school anymore.  She is scared of going out to play.  Her anxiety is through the roof.  She is now questioning if she will ever have “nice” friends as she now thinks she will only have mean friends.

My daughter is a very loyal friend.  Although she is terrified of the repercussions of walking away from her friend but she has always stood by her friend.

Bullying is simply not acceptable.

My local community constantly watches individuals harassing a neighbour who also is on the Spectrum.  Adults who all have licenses come out of their way and through objects constantly at his house to simply upset him and make him swear and yell for hours after.

Bullying is unacceptable and if you are doing it to someone for any reason, you need to look hard at yourself as it is unacceptable and it says a lot about you.

Individuals with Autism are affected by bullying!


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.



Blaming Parents’ with Challenging Children.

Blaming parents' with challenging childrenSimply blaming parents’ with challenging children is not the answer to help solve the problems that these children are having.  There are no parents’ that are 100% consistent in their behaviour management and families are suffering.

When looking at research, the majority of research comes from unidirectional theories which blames the inept parenting practices as the primary factor influencing the development of explosive behaviour in children. Unidirectional theory is based on the emphasis that ‘a child’s outcome is the product of either characteristics of the child or the characteristics of the adults.  For instance, he’s explosive and non compliant because of his parent’s are inept disciplinarians or he is explosive and non complaint because he has Autism.  Because it focuses on only one element of the adult – child equation, the intervention options are usually a)fix the parent  b)fix the child.

The other issue is conventional wisdom.  Conventional wisdom means  “the generally accepted belief, opinion, judgment, or prediction about a particular matter” (  Parent’s are often told that they need to be firmer, less permissive, reward or punish.  A typical type intervention is a coercive method which focuses primarily on patterns of parental discipline that contribute to the development of coercive parent-child exchanges.

In the coercive model, there are 4 sub-types of parent inadequate discipline

  1. Inconsistent discipline
  2. Irritable explosive discipline
  3. Low supervision and involvement
  4. Inflexible rigid discipline.

Parent’s are encouraged to:

  • Establish a list of target behaviours with compliance with adult directives as the primary objective.
  • Establish a menu of rewards and punishments so as to give the child the incentive to comply with adult directives.
  • Develop a currency system for example points, stickers, token to track the child’s performances and trigger the reward and punishment system. (Dr Ross Greene, The Explosive Child).

The majority of our parenting skills come from how we were raised as children and it goes from generation to generation.  A lot of parent’s reflect on how they were raised and make decisions in regards to which parts they would continue as parent’s and which parts that you do not want to continue. Have you ever thought to yourself “I sound like my mum or dad?”  For a new parent to really reflect about how they were raised brings up a lot of emotions and if you are stuck at the cross road of how you want to raise your child it is extremely challenging to do by yourself.  Blaming parents' with challenging children

Nevertheless, if the above interventions worked then why are there still challenging children?  The simple answer is there is no one fits all method for all children.  Some children are able to adapt successfully to the above method but there are so many children where this method does not work and we need to change our own thinking and approach.  Behaviourally challenging children need us to take a closer 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.

Throughout my study in Applied Behaviour Analysis, I have always used the idea that there is always a reason for a child’s behaviour.  Behaviour simply does not happen out of thin air.  There is always a reason for it and it needs to be uncovered to reduce the behaviour.  When integrating a child with severe Autism and non verbal into a mainstream outside school hours care, we were faced with a child who continually bit the adults caring for him.  Instead of looking simply at the behaviours and giving consequences to him, we looked at all the situations that occurred before the biting happened to understand the problem.  Once we started uncovering the causes of the behaviour and started implementing strategies to solve the problems, the behaviour naturally reduced in time.  Before I left on maternity leave, we did not have any more situations where he bit staff and we had tapped into his personality.

Ross Greene in his book The Explosive Child he states “Behaviourally challenging kids are challenging because they’re lacking the skills to not be challenging.”  I do not know how many times I have pondered this thought but when I look at my experience with children with Autism and raising our own girls with Autism, a lot of it does come down not having certain skills and it creates the behaviour.

The majority of challenging children lack the skills of flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem solving.  By looking deeply into these areas will help you to uncover the problems that have not been solved which will reduce the behaviour.

With my own children I have been applying these strategies when they have their meltdowns.  With my youngest daughter, she has a lot of trouble with flexibility and adapting to changes.  When she needs to adapt, her current response is screaming at me, hitting me and hiding under the table.  By understanding that transition to different activities (especially before school) is a skill that she needs help to develop, together we have come up with solutions which reduces the behaviour.  The best thing I have found for the transitioning problem is purchasing a timer with the red circle that is a visual prompt to how long she has got before she needs to do something else.

If what you are doing is currently not working, then I would encourage you to stop and reflect on what your beliefs to parenting is and realise the importance in changing your approach.  You will have people judging you and telling you all the methods through conventional methods but the difference is usually they do not have a child with challenging behaviours.  Blaming parent’s with challenging children is not the answer.

We run a Challenging Behaviour Busting program that helps you uncover all of these areas and if you want to know more simply email me at or look under Services for more information.  Blaming parents' with challenging children

What Do You Do When Times Are Tough?

What do you do what times are tough?

What do you do when times are tough?

When times are tough, it can be exhausting, deflating and most parent’s are at a loss of what to do.  However, by paying attention to the small moments that occur daily, it can help get you through the tough times.

Strategies that you could use to store these memories are:

  • Write down these moments in a journal.
  • Keep any work that your child brings home.
  • Stop for a moment when these small gestures occur and actually take notice how they make you feel.
  • Take photos and put them in a photo album.
  • Take part in activities that your child enjoys so you can create the special moments.
  • Do something with your child everyday even if it is only a small activity.
  • Appreciate how far your child has come.


Don’t Give Up On Your Partner

This post has taken me a while to write because it has brought up past emotions but also a sense of strength of how far our family has come. So please if this triggers any emotions for you,  remember how far you have also come or will go by showing yourself love.

After the birth of our first daughter Grace, I was diagnosed with major depression.  Parenthood was far from what I expected and I was not prepared for emotions from past events to surface the way they did.  I was sinking quickly into a black hole whilst struggling to be a mum to Grace.  However with the help of professionals I started to recover and find the real me.

Then Emma came along and I became unwell once again whilst I was still in hospital and I was sent to a mother/baby unit.  I spent 3 months in there trying to form a relationship with Emma and get through each day without self harming.  I kidded myself thinking I could go home and within a couple of months, my psychiatrist put me into a psychiatric ward in the hope that spending time with myself will help me to get on the road to recovery.  I have had treatment that I wouldn’t want anyone to go through but it all saved my life.  I spent 7 months in Emma’s first year of life in hospital trying desperately to get better.

I could never thank my husband Steve enough for what he did for me.  He was my rock the entire time.  He was devastated watching me go through what I did and it was tough looking after two children.  This was definitely far from what he expected parenthood to be like. Nevertheless it was the best thing for me as I came out a better person than ever and I could let go of the past demons.

Then our children were diagnosed with autism and sensory processing disorder and we did not know where to go from there.  Every dream that we had were shattered from our hard journey into parenthood.  Steve has also gone through a bout of depression.  There have been times where we spoke little and I was expecting him to one day come home and say the marriage is over.  It may have helped that I knew how he was feeling but I knew I would never give up on him.  It has been tough but now we are a lot closer.

Within families with autism and sensory processing disorder we find that some partners really struggle and it does cause separation.  A lot of families do not receive enough support to move through the grief cycle and it ends in depression.   It is hard when everything is being completed by one member of the partnership.  Your partner may not seek help but they need a place to be listened to without judgement.

Certainty Creates Power!

Definition of certainty:  State of being sure.

One of the basic human that everyone in the world needs is certainty.

Where does certainty come from?

The majority of our certainty comes from our beliefs.  Our beliefs are designed as a guiding force to tell us what will lead to pain and what will lead to pain and what will lead to pleasure.  Our brain asks two questions:

  1. Will this mean pain or pleasure?
  2. What must I do now to avoid pain and/or gain pleasure?

Our beliefs are driven by our generalisations about what we’ve learned could lead to pain and pleasure and this gives us our feelings of certainty.  Most people treat a belief as if it is a thing, when really all it is, is a sense of certainty.

The sense of certainty allows you to tap into resources that allow you to produce intelligent results.  Nevertheless our lack of beliefs, lack of certainty, causes us not to be able to use the capacity that resides within us.  If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain impossible.

For an individual with Autism, their lives are surrounded with certainty.  I know for my girls, we take them places we know that they feel comfortable and they also feel certain that they will be okay.  They participate in activities that they are certain of the outcome.  Individuals with autism like structure because they know what will happen.

Having a sense of certainty makes it easier to keep to goals.  If you know that eating healthy, exercising and sleeping will create a healthier life and it will bring pleasure to your life.  You will also will also link eating McDonalds to immense pain.

People take drugs, drink alcohol, gamble because they know how they will feel, even if it is a negative means.

But what happens when uncertainty comes along? Can you live your life just with certainty?  Find out next Thursday.