February 21, 2011

All Behavior Has a Purpose

Most of the time children either get something or they avoid something by engaging in a particular behavior. Think of a problem behavior you are currently seeing. What do you think your child is getting or avoiding by engaging in that behavior?

If your child uses a behavior to get something, try and figure out what he's hoping to gain. It could be attention, an item, an activity or control.

If the behavior is to avoid something ask yourself if your child is trying to avoid attention, tasks, demands or activities.

Now take a closer look at what triggers the behavior. What happens right before, or what sets off the behavior? Also note anything that sets up the behavior. This could be something related to home or family, social or environmental conditions, biological or medical conditions.

Once you've established the above, ask yourself the following questions:

When is the problem behavior least likely to occur?

When is my child most successful at managing this behavior?

Use the answers to these two questions to come up with a plan to address or redirect the problem behavior. Are you able to eliminate the trigger? Make your child a part of the solution by enlisting his help in coming up with a way to change the behavior.

I'd like your thoughts about problem behaviors to which you've felt challenged and how you went about redirecting them.

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