Managing challenging and confronting children while staying sane

Andrew Fuller

If you had to describe your child, would any of these phrases sound familiar?

‘It doesn’t matter what I say…’
‘She just gets something into her mind and won’t give it up.’
‘Some days I could just scream at them…’
‘He has always got to have the last word.’
‘She’s fine when she gets her own way.’
‘He can argue for hours.’
‘She has to win at everything!’

Congratulations! It’s likely you have a child with tricky behaviours!

While tricky behaviour can often be challenging and confronting for parents, the good news is that these children frequently grow up to be the movers and shakers of the world. Believe it or not they are more often than not the ones full of potential. Passive resistance, competitive, manipulative, aggressive, moody or argumentative traits can often disguise anxieties and stresses that children cannot articulate. The secret to transforming tricky behaviour is to discover the root causes of undesirable behaviour and show children how to use their abilities for good, rather than evil!

In this revised and updated edition of his bestselling book, Tricky Kids, leading Australian adolescent psychologist Andrew Fuller delves deeply into all the different types of tricky behaviour displayed by children of all ages. Using the latest thinking and developments in child psychology, he explains the most common reasons why children can display confronting behaviour and outlines practical steps you can take to help show them the way to live harmoniously with you and others. If you are sick of having your home resemble a war zone, hoarse from frequent screaming matches or just plain despair you will ever be able to understand or overcome your child’s tricky behaviour, then this book is for you!


Andrew Fuller is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He has acted as the scientific consultant for ABC TV on the science of teenage brains, is the principal consultant for the national drug prevention strategy REDI, an Ambassador for Mind Matters, a Member of the National Coalition Against Bullying, and is the Co-Director of Resilient Youth Australia. He is the author of numerous books, including Unlocking Your Child’s Genius and Your Best Life at Any Age.

Introduction from Tricky Behaviours…

A pledge to my child

To my dear son or daughter,

I am your parent. I am NOT the hired help, the locator of all lost socks or an open-all-hours convenience store that delivers anything you could ever wish for. I repeat, I am your parent.

This means there are times that I will use the word ‘No’. This means what it sounds like. You will not like it when I use this word.

There will be times that you think you hate me. There will be times that you think I am the worst parent on earth. There may be times that you are right, even though you won’t hear me
admit it.

As a parent I am responsible for raising you to be a decent human being who treats themselves and others with tolerance and respect.

That is my job and I take it on willingly because I love you and want the best for you. This means that I will watch you with a level of surveillance that most spy agencies would envy. I
will track you like a bloodhound. I will check whether you have schoolwork to do and whether you are doing it to the best of your ability.

I want you to have as many moments of sheer delight as possible, however, my job is to prepare you for real life. It may surprise you to learn that you will not blitz every test at school, be picked for the leading role in every play, be the best player in the team, win every award or be invited to every birthday party. These are not failures. This is real life. I won’t like these setbacks any more than you will. In my heart I would love you to have an endless progression of unwavering success but I know that having setbacks helps you to be humble, to try harder and to acknowledge others. They also make you stronger in the future.

Disappointments forge determination and increase the likelihood you will be able to go some way towards supporting me in my more senior years.

In the house that I work to pay for there will be rules and there will be jobs to do. You will not like all of these rules and you certainly won’t like all of the jobs. These rules are in place
so I do not go crazy while raising you. These jobs are there so you can learn that responsible people make a positive contribution to others.

You have the right to argue with me. You do not have the right to remain silent or brush me off with vague comments like ‘Don’t know’, ‘As if’ or ‘That’s so random …’

I’m sure we are going to get along just fine. Through all this please know that I love you for who you are and will continue to do so even if you stuff up.

Love, your parent


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