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What I want you to know about my child

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Parent and child walking through school or early learning centre


What I want you to know about my child was an important piece for me. I not only support families and centres with children experiencing big behaviours as a Social Inclusion Coordinator but am personally touched by this, with my six-year-old son. He is an absolutely beautiful little boy, though unfortunately for him, many people surrounding him have only seen the challenges. This experience has only strengthened my resolve to work with others to be able to see the whole child and to support everyone I come into contact with to truly believe that ‘bad’ behaviour is a child’s way of communicating something bigger. It is our job as adults to figure out what the behaviour is communicating and to cheer on all the amazing things about that child so they know they are skilled, positive and important contributors. 


I am the parent of THAT kid. You know the one; the kid that struggles to focus, that wriggles while all the other children sit quietly listening to the teacher, the one that climbs, touches things that aren’t theirs and sometimes even gets so angry that things get broken and people get hurt.

I know what you’re thinking when you see my child in the midst of a big behaviour – my child is wild, disrespectful, disobedient and lacks boundaries. I see your looks of disapproval, hear the comments you make under your breath or to other parents and I know you worry that the presence of my child, means your child is missing out.

I want you to know that I am fully aware of the impact that my child can have on the learning environment. I wish with all my heart some days, that my child was just like yours and that no one else had to wait for my child to be quiet, calm down or stop moving around the room. But I also want you to know that every other child in the room is learning to understand difference, that each of them has strengths, as well as skills they haven’t mastered yet, and that they are all learning to be patient and compassionate, while they each work to master these missing skills.

I have heard parents wonder why my child doesn’t listen, can’t be controlled or doesn’t get tougher consequences. I wish you could see, when you look at my child, the army of people behind them who have sought to find that magic strategy and know that it’s not for lack of trying.

I wish I could tell you about the years spent reading books and studying child development, searching for a strategy that works. I wish the school could tell you about the behavior management plan, individual learning plan and multiple strategies they have worked so hard to create. I wish I could tell you about the paediatricians, psychologists, occupational therapists and more that have been consulted. I wish that every time you saw my child’s big behaviours, that you could also see how hard we all try to support my child with strategies and skills.

I also want you to know that every disapproving look or comment only serves to reinforce the shame and anxiety I feel about my child’s behaviour. I try not to feel any of these things, but my own hopes and dreams for my child, added to the weight of outside expectations, is a heavy burden most days. And for my child, the disapproval of others only reinforces that they are not worthy of friends, of approval, of love, or of acceptance.

I really, really want you to see that there is a beautiful person, worthy of friendship and acceptance underneath the behaviours that push others away. I hope you can make the time to see that wonderful, big-hearted child, that is so rarely seen or acknowledged.
Lauren Lloyd

I want you to know how isolating it is being the parent of my child. This isn’t the first year I have felt the weight of other people’s opinions, advice or expectations of my child. Play dates have been a rarity because I know how hard it is to get my child to follow my directions or keep themselves safe and how tiring their boundless energy is. I can count the amount of birthday invites we have had in the last three years on one hand.

I also struggle to make friends with other parents because I hate the idea of getting close to people, only to have them distance themselves when my child’s behaviour becomes too much for them. I also worry that other parents will talk behind my back about my wild, disobedient child and my poor parenting skills (because I rarely feel ‘in control’ as a parent).

I want you to know though, that my child is not without boundaries or consequences. In fact, my child consistently attracts the natural consequence of misbehavior – other people are hesitant to make friends with my child, play with my child, interact with my child and look after my child. The isolation, people staring and people’s comments have meant that my child is also anxious, has low self-esteem (because they are THAT kid) and is a perfectionist in the debilitating way, that means they often won’t try if they believe others will see them fail. And sadly, for my child, behaviour and making good choices is often a point of failure and they don’t have the impulse control skills to act any differently most days.

I also want you to know that after years of being THAT kid, my child’s anxiety has pushed them over the edge at this point in the year. A new class, new room, new teacher and new expectations have combined into a melting pot of every day being almost too hard for my child to push through.

I want you to know that my child sees your looks of bewilderment when they don’t behave as you expect and sadly this strengthens their belief that they are different and not good enough to be friends with your child or be a positive member of the class. My child is also hyperaware of other people’s views - my child feels one person staring at them as a crowd of thousands, just waiting for them to make the wrong choice. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, as the anxiety becomes too much and my child inevitably escalates.

I want you to know though, that underneath what you see, is a child with beautiful manners, a kind heart and generous soul, who often sees children alone or sad in the playground and seeks to find them a friend or cheer them up with something my child knows that child likes doing. I wish my child could show you these qualities more often, but they are hindered by the skills they have not yet mastered. Skills you may expect them to have mastered by now, because your child may have nailed them years ago.

I really, really want you to see that there is a beautiful person, worthy of friendship and acceptance underneath the behaviours that push others away. I hope you can make the time to see that wonderful, big-hearted child, that is so rarely seen or acknowledged.

And I want you to know most of all - that we need you. While most days we might seem invisible, we need each and every one of you. To appreciate every child and every family, we all need to hold onto our judgement, see each child as an individual, to look for the skills a child might be missing - rather than just seeing ‘bad’ behaviour - and to wholeheartedly believe that every child is capable of more. We need you to believe that, so that in our dark days, we can believe that too.