Part 3: Behaviour - What does the brain have to do with it?

So far we have covered:

Part 1

  • Children do not understand the same way as adults and cannot foresee the consequences of their actions in the same way as an adult

Part 2

  • We have mental “brakes” and “accelerators” in our brain. Children need to switch or toggle between these to learn skills to manage impulsivity, make good decisions and grow in maturity.

Today, let’s look at how parenting plays a significant role in shaping a child’s brain. There are two main ways a parent can train their child and teach them how to manage their emotions and behaviour. These are:

The “outside in” approach – For example, when you as parent, encourage or reward a particular behaviour to help it continue or use a consequence for a behaviour that is not wanted.

The “inside out” approach – The focus of this approach is teaching your child how to identify, track and then manage their own emotions. The idea behind this is that if a child can be taught to manage their emotions they can manage their behaviour. This will help your child understand how to balance an appropriate reaction for a particular situation. Rather than under-reacting or over-reacting, eventually they will start to develop a response that can handle a situation with maturity and growing independence.

Both of these concepts are important to understand and evaluate as a parent, how and when you might use each approach at home. Sorting behaviour becomes extremely important as a parent, as suddenly you need to choose the most appropriate response to a given behaviour. Keeping these approaches in mind, we suggest matching the following responses to the following behaviours.

Table Managing Behaviour.png

While approaches, techniques and strategies are useful tools as parents, it is important to remember these are just a part of the big picture in parenting.

The goal of parenting is not behavioural control. It is not conforming your child to your expectations or even giving them everything you never had.

The goal needs to include the recognition you are responsible for training and teaching a life that will go on to impact many others. The message of who they are and what they are worth will carry much further in the way you demonstrate how you love them, teach them and grow them.

It is a wonderful gift and responsibility to be a parent!

If there is something in this series that has left you thinking you would like to talk further or understand more about your child’s behaviour, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our website or on 0416 190 434

Dr Andrew Wilkinson

Clinical Psychologist