Sunday, March 10, 2013

Escape or Attain?

I've always been fascinated with human behavior, children's in particular.  Behavior is like peeking through a window at how our brains work, and our brains are one of the biggest mysteries about us; because it's not always easy to decode the how and why of our behaviors.

I was with a friend a couple of weeks ago, discussing a behavior her son was expressing that seemed out of the ordinary for him.  She had run out of ideas as to how to handle the situation because she wasn't sure why it was happening.  After much talking, she got a phone call that her son was misbehaving again.  As I was listening to her talk some more after the disheartening phone call she received, I thought about some of the things I had learned from a friend and former co-worker regarding children's behavior.  One thing stuck out in my mind that she said a lot...

There are one of two things a child has on their mind when they are misbehaving...

1.  They are trying to escape something.


2.  They are trying to attain something.  

Behavior is complex, but a simple perspective can be a powerful one.  Just the other day my five year old was "out of sorts," and I knew he was just hungry.  His ultimate goal was to attain food.  I kept telling myself this to prevent from getting too frustrated with the drama he was creating so it wouldn't escalate, and deal with the way he was choosing to express his need.  It's not easy, that's why Confucius said, "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated." 

If you're wondering about my friend's son, he was trying to escape something.  Once my friend realized this, it opened the pathway she needed to take in figuring out how to approach the behavior he was exhibiting.  She was even able to show her son that she and his teacher were a team, and would be working together to help him make better choices.  

Do you have a favorite piece of advice that helps to keep things in perspective when it comes to children's behavior?

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  1. One parenting coach of mine always said, "Ask yourself, what is your child's reason?" Great piece!

    1. Great question! We get lost so quickly in the behavior that it makes it harder to see the reason for it.

  2. I agree there is usually a bigger reason behind misbehavior. It also helps to think of this because it can usually put a stop to a lot of misbehavior if you realize why your child is acting out. Not everything can be controlled but a lot can.

    I absolutely adore these photos, and thank you for sharing at the Sunday Parenting Party!

    1. Thanks Rebekah, it's funny how these photos came to be a part of this post actually! We were just having fun with the chair tunnel and I thought I'd end up writing something geared toward baby play but these seemed so fitting for the topic!

  3. i love your parenting posts I always learn something. This is so brilliantly simple. I just sat here and thought about a few situations where my son was acting 'off' and by applyiong your simple equation I was able to pinpoint what the issue was each time (the wonders of hinde sight). I'm going to try and bear this in mind in future. Thanks
    I'm featuring this on the Sunday Parenting Party this week

  4. I try to put myself in my son's situation. Would I like someone nagging me about picking up my stuff? No. How about telling me I have to turn off my favorite show to go to the grocery story? Nope. It helps me to compromise and to be patient.

    1. Great tip, so much of how we react to behavior is related to how self aware we are!


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