Two simple ways to help your youngster cope when things aren't going their way!


We have to begin by recognising this is completely natural brain work. We all struggle when things do not go our way. The difference is, as adults, we have learned strategies for coping (problem solving, expressing our feelings, self-soothing which can look like listening to music, writing in a journal or eating ice cream!! We all develop tools as we grow) 

So here are two gentle ways we can help them cope during those early stages:

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1. Remove stressors where possible by replacing "No you may not have any grapes until you eat your lunch." with "Sure you can have grapes! once you finish your lunch I'll make a big bowl of purple grapes!" Same answer, different responses in his brain. Read more here about stressors and the importance of understanding our use of the word "No".

2. Practice self regulation daily when everyone's calm and happy. for example, let's say he doesn't cope well with sharing his Lego. Sit down on the floor with him and say, "I'm going to build with these pieces for 20 seconds." Count down while you build. He may get upset and that's okay as he learns this new process of coping. Gently follow through for those twenty seconds then, "Thank you for letting me build, now it's your turn and I'll watch you!" Then after a couple minutes, "Okay I'm going to have a turn again, this time for 30 seconds!" and continue this process, gradually increasing your time to build and his time to share with you. Once he is coping well with you, it's time to incorporate his brother into the Lego sharing game. 

The above examples will build his intrinsic self control and gently increase his coping skills. Would you like to learn more about brain work during early development? Check out our other articles! 

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About the author Stephanie Wicker is a child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker - who has successfully guided families through early childhood for over 15 years. Through her experience with private consultancy, as a preschool teacher and special needs therapist - she has worked across the many facets of early childhood behaviour. 


Stephanie's evidence-based programs are grounded in behaviour science and her passion for Relational Frame Theory (RFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and developmental psychology all play a big role in her programs.

Stephanie’s experience covers early intensive behaviour intervention programs for children with special needs and for families newly diagnosed. She hosts live training events all over Australia, where she shares her practical solutions and language techniques, along with providing private, in-home therapy sessions for those seeking more personalised support. 

Through her company, Simply Kids she provides family resources such as digital books and educational activities, designed to keep behaviour simple. 

"By helping parents place emphasis on connection, empowerment and encouragement, I believe that all children have the ability to reach their full potential." - Stephanie Wicker


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Stephanie Wicker