Parenting | Reading as a tool to manage challenging behaviour

family readingAs yesterday was World Book Day we thought it would be an ideal time to discuss reading and how reading can be used as a tool to manage challenging behaviours. Reading can create an opportunity for calm, quiet reflection and relaxation. It can also open up an opportunity for discussions between parent and child and can be used as a starting point to discuss any issues going on in the child’s life.

Here are our ’10 ways’ tips on using reading as a tool in your parenting:

  1. Many parents know about time out or they think they know from all the TV shows telling them about it. However many parents get totally confused in how to implement time out and for what reasons. Time out can become a challenging behaviour rather than a tool to resolve it.
  2. Quiet time can be a much more positive tool to try and implement in your home. The whole purpose of time out is to calm down. However the mechanism of implementing time out is very challenging. If you focus on creating quiet time it can make things much easier.
  3. In advance of challenging behaviours taking place, talk with your child about what you can all do when you are feeling angry, overwhelmed or frustrated. Allow your children to talk about what they need at this time. Talk with them about how you feel when they act out these feelings. Talk with them about what currently happens when any member of the family has these feelings.
  4. Talk with them about the idea of creating space and calming down.
  5. Ask them to describe what currently helps them calm down. Tell them things you do to help you to calm down. Bring them back to the idea of a quiet place to sit and calm down. How would this help you restore balance to how you are feeling? How would it support you to talk about how you are feeling so it can be explored?
  6. Ask each person in the family to take part in creating the calm, quiet place. Where it should be, what it should look like, how much space is there for it, should there be activities in this space such as mindfulness tactics. Children and adult colouring books can be really useful. The space must be an area that all family members can use and want to use. Each family member must respect each other when in this place.
  7. There should be some small rules around the space. Such as when someone goes into the space, no one else should talk to them and leave them to calm down. You can sit with them but do not engage with them unless invited to do so. You can stay in there for as long as you need to. Each family can create their own rules and review them every so often to ensure the space is still working for everyone.
  8. A further idea is a feelings tent. You could use a pop up tent which is cheap to purchase and easy to store. It also doesn’t need too much space. It can be a lovely place to sit when you have feelings that need time to resolve, time to sit with, to think about and to understand. Support children to become aware of their feelings and to understand how to name them and why they exist. This is crucial to emotional development and well-being as they grow.
  9. For many parents we have difficulty in identifying our feelings and sitting with them. We can be inclined to make them someone else’s issue and we blame others for them. The feelings tent can be a really good place for you too to further develop your feelings, own them and be kind to yourself in understanding why they exist for you. Role modelling is key to positive parenting.
  10. One Family have compiled a comprehensive book list that is useful for families going through times of change. The book list is divided into the following topics: Separation/Divorce; Family Types; Fostering and Adoption; Death and Bereavement and Stepparents and Stepfamilies. Many of the books should be available in your local library and if not the library will order them in for you.


This week’s ‘10 Ways’ parenting tips is written by Geraldine Kelly, One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email