Just in time for summer, these books are some of our favorites for helping parents with their children’s “behavior” issues. They offer different perspectives and strategies, but they all share the common idea that kids who are seen as having “ bad behavior” often have some underlying issues that can be addressed with practical strategies. They examine behavior problems as symptoms of sensory processing issues or emotional development, rather than the more common understanding that kids choose to be bad or throw tantrums on purpose to get what they want. Our therapists recommend these books because they help parents and teachers understand how some children experience the world and give them practical, compassionate tools to help them respond effectively to their kids’ sometimes bewildering behavior.
The Whole Brain Child is a great resource for all parents that provides insights into childhood behavior problems by examining the science of a child’s developing brain. The part of the brain responsible for logical decisions is not fully developed until the mid-twenties, so strong emotions often take over the reasoning parts of the brain for young children. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are being “bad.” Usually they want to do what is asked of them; the problem is understanding why they don’t, seeing it from their perspective, and helping them solve the problem. This book offers practical strategies that help parents understand how to calm emotional outbursts and teach their children to understand their emotions and calm themselves.
The Out of Sync Child is an introduction to sensory processing disorder for parents and educators, helping them identify when a child may have SPD and providing tools to encourage healthy development of sensory processing skills. Sensory processing refers to the brain’s ability to receive, organize and use information provided by all our senses. If there is inefficiency in processing sensory information, a child’s ability to function is compromised. SPD can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Some children with SPD may be unable to attend or sit still, some may be clumsy, some shy and withdrawn, some aggressive. This book is a helpful resource on recognizing this difficult-to-diagnose disorder and providing sensory-based strategies to help kids with SPD learn and thrive.
Not every child meets the description of Dr. Greene’s “inflexible-explosive” child, but his book offers valuable insights into the world of kids with low frustration tolerance and extreme emotional outbursts. He tries to give parents insight into why their child behaves the way he or she does, and offers alternative disciplinary strategies that are different than those that usually work for other children. His book stresses that there is no one magic remedy – all children are different. By understanding the behavior and adapting their approach parents can learn to manage the behavior and help their child overcome the challenges presented by their inflexibility and low frustration tolerance.