The second step to helping upset children and adults: Define the problem

When dealing with another person’s problem behaviours the first step is to use empathetic listening to uncover what might be the underlying issues that cause their outburst. [Read about step one HERE]

The next step is to work out how they can come up with new behaviours that don’t impinge on the life of others.

Often the person (child) doesn’t realise that their behaviour affects other people even if you think they should know this. The second magic formula from the book The Explosive Child can be helpful to use with your child or with colleagues.

Magic formula two:

“The thing is…” + (communicate your concerns about the problem).”

Stay gentle and calm. Avoid saying the word “you” in this conversation. Stick to the word “I” and talk about your feelings. This will help the other become more aware of other people’s perspectives.

“The thing is that in those moments when you don’t want to go to school I get highly anxious because I will be late for my work myself and I can’t afford to be late.”

This is an opportunity for each of you to understand where the other person is coming from, what affects them and what they worry about.

This is not a solution finding stage, it is still in the exploratory stage of the process. Given that you are having this conversation when things have settled down, it is not a problem to take your time. Let these ideas land in the other person’s consciousness. Stay relaxed and non-judgmental.

Watch out next week for the third step.