All children have bouts of Challenging Behaviour. It can start with the terrible two’s, sometimes before and often into tweens and teens too.
Transitions, changes in routine and different situations or circumstances can be a trigger emotion and so behaviour changes as well.
Behaviour is directly linked to Feelings and Emotions. All behaviour serves a purpose and is usually a cry for help or frustration at not being able to do something, not knowing what is happening or not being in control.
However, some children will display challenging behaviour more than others. As a Foster Parent I have seen this time and time again with children in my care and I was extremely interested in why this happens. Through learning and research, I discovered that understanding the way the brain develops and works, and how important attachments are, helped me to see how and why this might be.
The way our brain develops is totally down to the experiences we have had, and the emotions attached to those experiences. The way the pathways in the brain develop in children really can affect their behaviour, their personality and even their future prospects as adults. Equally, with us as adults.
How we react or behave when our children misbehave is probably already programmed or hard wired into us. How we are programmed to react in those situations.
Understanding how we can help to rewire the pathways in the brain through nurture and therapeutic care or coaching is really helpful, but first knowing why is key.
Developing Pathways in the Brain
As children grow and develop, they experience new things. These experiences and the way they react to them, the emotions they attach to those experiences directly affects the way in which the neuro pathways in their brain develop
Through repetition of these actions and reactions the brain starts to recognise patterns, resulting in the development of pathways or connections. The most obvious example of this is when a baby cries, Mother comes and soothes, so the baby learns to trust the adult. This helps development of a secure attachment. Or, on the other hand, if when the baby cries the parent does not respond the child learns that the adult is not reliable or trustworthy, the baby learns not to trust or that the caregiver is inconsistent. This promotes development of an insecure attachment. It begins the creation of the pathways in the brain.
Pathways, or connections, that are used more often are strengthened, because as the patterns continue to be repeated, the pathways are reinforced. Pathways that are not used tend to be lost.
So, if a child does not experience certain things the pathways do not become an important part of their blueprint.
And importantly, if a child experiences poor parenting or has bad experiences repeatedly, then the pathways in the brain will register the reactions to these.
As new experiences are encountered the brain will use the negative blueprint where those pathways have been forged.
A child’s brain develops in early childhood. The formation of attachments, both secure and insecure, influences the brain development. As the child’s brain develops more and more pathways, they are developing their view of the world. Their reality tunnel.
Our Reality Tunnel.
The pathways and our reality tunnel created from our experiences determines how we to react to situations which in turn creates the template, or blueprint.
This blueprint becomes their Internal Working Model. This is because our brain takes the path of least resistance and so we often react in the same way in similar situations.
Because our brain has learned to do so and uses it as a shortcut. It takes the easiest route.
Our Internal Working Model.
Our IWM is simply our guide, our blueprint, influencing the way we behave in all our future relationships and experiences. It determines how we see Ourselves, Our World and Others.
The IWM dictates the way in which we react. It determines how we deal with relationships and emotions.
Everything a child experiences in early childhood helps to build this Internal Working Model. It becomes who they are. And Similarly, it is how we become who we are, determining our actions and reactions as adults.
This is why in order to develop and become able to cope with life’s challenges we all need many positive experiences.
But this is not always reality is it?
Because none of us have only positive experiences, do we?
So, we may also need help in understanding our emotions. We might need help to be able to control our emotions, rather than being controlled by them by gaining the tools to be able to be able to turn things around. And so too may our children.
And this can be done by changing the emotions attached to our experiences, memories and learning. Almost like ‘re-training’ or ‘rewiring’ the brain. It makes all the difference in whether we are controlled by our emotions or are in control of them. And it can make the difference to which of the two realty tunnels we live in.
Which is your reality tunnel?