April 18, 2012

A Child's 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 your child is currently displaying. 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 identify what he is hoping to gain. It could be your attention, something tangible (candy) a preferred activity (watching TV) or control (power struggle). 

If the behavior is to avoid something ask yourself if your child is trying to avoid attention, difficult tasks (homework) demands (picking up toys) or activities (sports practice). 

Temper tantrums are something children often use to get what they want or to avoid doing something.Now take a closer look at what triggers the behavior. What happens right before, or what sets off the problem behavior. Also note any factors or events that set up the behavior. This could be factors related to home or family, social or environmental conditions, biological or medical conditions.  A child who is hungry or tired can display inappropriate behaviors.  A snack or quiet time may ward off inappropriate behaviors. 

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

1. When is my child most successful?

2. When is the problem least likely to occur?  Use the answers to these two questions to map out a plan to redirect the problem behavior. You may be able to eliminate the trigger(s). Make your child be a part of the solution by enlisting her help in coming up with a way to change the behavior. 

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