When parents reach out to me to see if I can help solve their child’s problem behavior, most want to get a sense of how I work. Is my approach one you can feel good about? What makes me different from other parenting experts? Read on to learn more!
1. I’m a problem-solver!
My work with families tends to be very practical, which means our main focus is on solving behavior problems as they play out in YOUR family and YOUR situation.
Not all kids are the same, right? What works with your friends’ kids isn’t working with your kids! And the biggest benefit of a practical, problem-solving approach is that we prescribe and tailor techniques that will work for you and your child.
Now of course, working within the context of your family does not mean that my techniques and strategies aren’t based on broader principles. My work is grounded in learning theory and the science of child development, and my recommendations are based on broader assumptions about what kids and parents need. And science is important, and parenting theory is important – but at the end of the day, that knowledge won’t do much for you if it’s not adapted to YOUR family.
Take, for example, a tool that helps resolve emotional dysregulation: A cool-down space where kids can express their emotions safely. One challenge a lot of parents have with this tool is that their kids won’t go to the cool-down space in the beginning. What do you do to get the kids to go? Well, it depends on the child and the family!
My practical, real-world focus is one reason the families I work with have such positive outcomes. Here’s what one client had to say!
“Rebecah didn’t psychoanalyze or label our kids. Instead, she gave us very specific instructions on techniques to try, and she would help us tweak them until they were the best fit for our kids and their specific personalities and needs. We would constantly throw additional questions at her (but what about when we’re traveling? or in the car? or at the store?) and she always had an answer that made sense.”
2. We work with the core dynamics (it’s all about CONTROL!)
As I mentioned above, although I tailor specific techniques so they’re a fit with each family, the techniques and strategies I prescribe are based on broader principles. Specifically, the techniques and strategies I use are designed to address the underlying dynamics that play such a big role in strong-willed kids’ behavior.
And as it turns out, one really significant dynamic contributing to strong-willed kids’ behavior is their orientation toward autonomy and control.
You’ve heard of the “Type A” personality, right? Control is REALLY important to some people, and some kids have a higher need for control than other kids – it’s just part of their natural temperament. And if we try to stop the problem behavior without addressing this need for control, either we fail or, if we do solve the problem, the solution is short-lived.
I’ve often said that today’s positive parenting strategies don’t work with strong-willed, “spirited” kids because they don’t go far enough. Yes, all kids need you to be positive. Yes, all kids need connection. But strong-willed kids need something more, and I’ve learned through my work with many, many strong-willed kids that the “more” that’s needed are techniques and practices that account for – and enhance – these kids’ sense of control.
I developed the strategies and tools I use based on my extensive experience with strong-willed kids. And here’s a spoiler alert! Addressing kids’ need for control means a lot more than just “giving them choices!” It isn’t rocket science, but you do need to know what you’re doing. As an example, you need to be able to give them autonomy in ways that are meaningful to THEM – and you also need to maintain the control you need as a parent, otherwise you won’t be able to teach them to SHARE control.
But when you do it right, you solve the problem behavior, not just in the short term, but also long-term.
I love what this client said her review of our work together!
“Rebecah is the first person who really understood what we’re dealing with parenting our intense, strong-willed, 10-year-old son. We had read all the books, tried various systems, and nothing was working. Rebecah is kind, professional, and understands what motivates this personality type – critical information that isn’t found in typical parenting books or the advice of well-meaning friends and family.”
3. I don’t blame the parents
Like so many parenting professionals today, I am a big believer in positive parenting. I’m certified in Positive Discipline, and I’ve received training in Ross Greene’s collaborative-problem-solving model, and I’m certified in other modalities as well. And I believe that your connection with your child, and the way you communicate with him or her, plays a HUGE role in your attempts to solve the problem behavior.
On the other hand, while you want to be a positive parent, and I want you to be a positive parent, all too often today’s parenting experts fail to understand the true relationship between positivity and problem behavior. In other words, it is NOT always the case that, in the words of one Peaceful Parenting coach I know, “A connected child is a child who wants to cooperate.”
And this is because personality and temperament also play a huge role. All kids need connection, of course. But connection and positivity don’t neutralize the strong-willed child’s strong desire to have it their way.
And this is why communication and connection aren’t our primary focus. The problems won’t get solved if all we do is tweak your response to them, so while we do include you being positive as part of the how-to of problem-solving, if all we do is work on you, chances are you’ll end up like this parent who recently reached out to me:
“I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my 10-year-old son’s behavior. I feel that I need support in dealing with my own frustration, but I also want tools that help solve the behavior! My husband and I have done Peaceful Parenting – twice! And we’ve read soooo many books. But here we are.”
This parent is right on track. She wants to be positive with her son, and she wants to connect with him – AND, she wants to address the behavior directly. If you have a strong-willed kid, you will need to address their behavior directly if you want that behavior to change. And when we shift the behavior, the stress and pain decreases, your anger and frustration decreases, you enjoy being with your child again – and you no longer feel like yelling!
“We had tried techniques from parenting books before without much effect, but Rebecah was able to give us what we needed for a child who is very committed to getting his way. Our child’s behavior has improved considerably and we’re able to set limits and get cooperation without anger – much more of our time with him is spent enjoying each other instead of locked in frustrating battles!”
–Wits’ End coaching client
4. You can tell me anything
I actually had to consider whether I really wanted to share this with you – that you can tell me anything. Because hey, I’m a family counselor. I’m SUPPOSED to listen, right? You SHOULD be able to tell me anything. Still, so many of my clients have commented on this aspect of my teaching style, I wanted to mention it here.
You really can tell me anything. Parents have told me they hate their kids. Parents have told me they spank their kids, and they’re ashamed of that. But I know from my own personal experience how hard it can be sometimes, and my clients are often relieved at how easy it is to talk with me. Here’s what some of them have said:
“Rebecah allowed us to come as our full selves and approached us with NO judgment. Rebecah quickly made it clear that we were all on the same team and what we’ve been doing as parents is HARD.”
“Rebecah was not judgmental in any way, could laugh with you and make you feel like you were a wonderful parent… even on your toughest days!”
“Rebecah is calm, centered, non-judgmental, kind, caring, and just completely FULL of solutions and tips and tricks.”
“It’s hard to think of new things to add to all of the wonderful reviews already written about Rebecah. I think it bears repeating, though, that Rebecah gives you simple, practical tools that lead to swift improvement, and all without judgment, labeling, fault-finding or blame. You might not realize it until you start with her, but this approach in and of itself can be a huge relief.”
Is your situation especially hard? Do other parents look at your child’s behavior and assume you’re a bad parent? What about teachers, or therapists, or other parenting experts – are they judging you, too? Well, you can tell me anything, and I won’t judge you. And better yet, we’ll solve the problems that brought you to me!
5. My programs come with between-session support
Although I have a straightforward, practical approach, still, there IS a learning curve! And this means that even though you’ll see positive change quickly, still, chances are the strategies and tools I prescribe won’t work perfectly the first time you try them.
And this is why my programs come with between-session support.
Sometimes parents find they’re unclear about a strategy we talked about in the session. Sometimes parents are clear on the strategy, but they need help adapting it to a particular situation. And sometimes the child’s response to a needed strategy is particularly difficult, and parents wonder if that’s OK.
Parents love the between-session session support that comes with my programs! This extra support keeps you from getting “stuck” between sessions, and being able to come to me with questions and concerns when things are happening in the moment can play a really big part in your ability to stay on track and stay the course.
This extra support is one reason my programs are so effective. It also allows us to do more in a lot less time!
If you’ve reached out to me to see if I can help solve your child’s problem behavior and we’re not yet working together, chances are you want to get a sense of how I work. I’ve shared a little on that here, and I hope it was helpful! If you’ve accessed this page through an email confirming our initial consultation, I look forward to seeing you soon! And if you haven’t yet scheduled a consult, shoot me an email or reach out through my Contact page. I look forward to speaking with you!