Exploring conscious and unconscious responses to children's behaviour.

Learning goals

  • Identify stressors and their possible causes.
  • Develop strategies for keeping calm during parenting challenges.

Reflect on childhood experiences

Either in pairs or as a whole group, prompt some reflection on our own childhoods. Start with a discussion about when participants were little and were in big trouble with their whānau. What happened?

Mark a whiteboard or chart paper into 4 columns with these headings:

  • Child’s behaviour
  • Why it bugs us
  • Possible cause
  • Possible prevention

In pairs, think about and discuss the following questions. Take one question at a time, and after each one stop and ask for feedback from the pairs.

  • Which of our kids’ behaviours upset or annoy us most?
  • Why is that?
  • What is causing that annoying behaviour?
  • How can we make the unwanted behaviour happen less often?

Record their responses to the first question in the first column, to the second in the second, and so on. For example:

  • Screaming
  • Painful to the ears, disrupting
  • Wanting attention or connection
  • Have regular one-on-one time together.

Ask the group to think about a really young child. How does the child know that their behaviour is upsetting or annoying to their whānau?

Extend the activity by adding 4 more columns and use the following questions to prompt more discussion:

  • Things we might do unconsciously in response to the behaviour.
  • Things that we could do consciously in response to the behaviour.
  • Things that might influence our responses.*
  • Things that might influence our children’s behaviours.*

* These might include things like age, special needs, illness, tiredness, setting, state of mind, fear, hunger, and temperament of the child and their parents.