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Your role as a parent is a balancing act. You’re on the tightrope juggling school vs. home, nutrition vs. treats, play vs. discipline.

And you have something else to manage that many parents don’t understand: being a parent of a child vs. being a parent of a child with special needs.

Sometimes your child has an undesired behavior because, well, she’s a kid.

But other times, it’s based on her developmental challenges.

There is never an excuse for challenging behavior, but the difference in origin will affect how you address your child.

It’s a delicate balance! Let’s outline a set of guidelines to assist in making the determination. Having this knowledge can help you to parent more effectively.

Consider the location. Does your child have problem behavior in some locations and not others? This is an indicator that the problem behavior is actually a behavior and not connected to her special needs. If your child is an angel at school and a devil at home, consider what may be possible at home. Speak with the classroom teachers to get some ideas of how they address problem behaviors.

To whom is the behavior directed? Differentiation of people is another way to identify the root cause of challenges. Does your child eat a great lunch with your babysitter but will not take even one bite with you? Ask your babysitter exactly what she’s doing during their mealtime and integrate that into your own mealtime.

Think about basic human needs. Being tired or hungry will exaggerate problem behavior and make it worse. If you’re noticing the start to problem behavior, this might be a great time to offer a snack. Offering food at the onset could provide the fuel your child needs and the piece of mind you want.

When you know your small being’s actions are strictly from behavioral causes, then the need to address it becomes clearer. Your role as a parent becomes easier with clarity. You will know what you need to address and what you may decide to let go.

Each child is unique and each situation may have its own root cause. Consider your family and see how you can apply these guidelines to your small being.

For more resources to help you navigate behavior, consider going over to the special page exclusively for NY Parenting’s Special Child at bit.ly/vid-spneeds.

Dr. Marcie Beigel is a behavioral therapist based in Brooklyn. She has worked with thousands of families for more than 15 years and has condensed her observations into her practice and programs. For more on her, visit www.BehaviorAndBeyond.net.

Updated 4:58 pm, July 9, 2018
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