I read somewhere that children who are disciplined feel more loved and that clear behaviour frameworks improve children’s mental health. It can be difficult to believe that sometimes when all they seem to want to do is push the boundaries! Whether they are toddlers or teenagers there is always a challenge to be or a potential rule that they’d love to bend or break.
However I recently had the experience of working with some challenging youths as a child therapist over an extended period of several weeks.
Initially we had to create the rules and agreements that would help to nurture the behaviour that would help them to learn, gain rewards and enable me to create an effective teaching environment.
Once this was decided, there were a few clunky sessions whilst it was put our behaviour framework into action. Soon though, the framework enabled us to both get the best from the sessions.
In our final week together, I decided to relax the framework a little bit. To give a little flexibility.
Now generally speaking, a bit of flexibility is good. A bit of relaxation is good. What I’d like to remind you though, is that you need to be fully aware of the context in which you are relaxing your framework and the consequences this will therefore have.
For me, relaxing the rules on that particular day with the particular mix of character who were there that day, wasn’t a great idea! It created an ineffective learning environment. It meant that they didn’t benefit from what I was sharing that day. As a tricky as it may have seemed, these particular individuals always needed the framework in place.
I’m not sure that the framework provided the kind of discipline that would enable them to feel more loved, but it did give them more guidance and certainty. It gave them a focus and an expectation.
Sometimes parents will tell me that they struggle to keep up with the constant boundary reinforcement that their children seem to want to constantly challenge. However I’d suggest those frameworks are far less exhausting to maintain than having to reset them after relaxing them too far!
By Gemma Bailey
Gemma Bailey is the director of NLP4Kids, a children’s therapy service that provides teen therapy and child counselling using NLP, a proactive alternative to conventional child psychology. If you are looking for a child counsellor to help your child overcome stress, depression or anxiety related problems or if you wish to book a workshop to help your child improve their mental health call 0203 6677294 or email Gemma@NLP4Kids.org Gemma is based in Hertfordshire and works with clients in and around Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Watford, Potters Bar, Berkhamsted, North London and Hertfordshire.