Externalising is a simple technique that many family therapists and I use in sessions. Externalizing the problem

Externalising is a technique that arose from Narrative Therapy.

Michael White and David Epston developed narrative therapy. They created it as a non-pathologizing, empowering, and collaborative approach. It recognises that people have the skills and expertise to help guide change in their lives. Narrative therapy separates people from their problems. This allows therapists to help people externalise sensitive issues. Objectifying issues may lower a person’s resistance and defences. It will enable people to address their problems more productively and with more compassion and understanding.

What does Externalising mean?

Instead of saying the child is naughty, telling the child they are bad or flawed somehow, you tell the child that they have a “naughty part” that needs to go away. You can call this naughtiness anything you like; your children will often speak of this. They might say:

  • The naughty monster!
  • Mr naughty!
  • The fizzy
  • Their name?!

Why will Externalising help in your parenting?

We can tell our children they are naughty or bad in moments of anger or frustration. If we say this repeatedly, it often leads to our children feeling bad inside and developing low self-esteem in the longer term. When you externalise the behaviour so that it happens to the child, then the behaviour is naughty, not the child. It also leads to more understanding and compassion.

Talk about what it will be like when the behaviour has gone; call it by the chosen name. Use the child’s natural imagination to help explore how lovely things could be if the behaviour is defeated.

When children are feeling bad, they often feel out of control. They will feel much more secure if they know.

  1. You think you can both regulate the behaviour.
  2. You love them and only hate the behaviour.

Keep a chart or diary to show how often “the behaviour” wins and gets what it wants. Work as a family. Watch the things you don’t allow “the behaviour” to do or get away with and talk to the child about how. Above all, focus on the times when the behaviour isn’t winning. Find as many opportunities to show the child they are managing “the behaviour” as possible.

It is often beneficial to enlist their school in this approach too.

I hope this helps, and if you can’t change the behaviour on your own, let me help you; Book a consultation.

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