How many times have we heard, “you need to ignore the behavior!”This may have been from teachers, professionals, or your own family. We have been trained to ignore a bad behavior in order for the behavior to come down. Have you found yourself in a situation in which the behavior was not going away? Days pass on and you wonder what you will do to get passed the situation.
So, why is it that others tell us to “ignore” behavior? Though behaviors can have various function, we find that many speak about just one, when the child is seeking attention. When we view behaviors as a form of communication, we can shift our perspective on how we should react. Prior to reacting to your child, it is important to decide, “what is my child trying to tell me with what they are doing?” When looking at the "Why's" of behaviors we can refer to four functions that will be described as below.
Lets review some of the “why’s” of what we do!
Attention: When our children are behaving in certain ways that are inappropriate, sometimes the reason is exactly what we believe. Your child is letting you know, "I am looking for attention." Be mindful however, that what is perceived as “negative” attention (i.e. getting yelled at, being reprimanded), can still be the reason your child engages in inappropriate behavior.
Tangible: Your child is letting you know, they want something!!! (i.e. IPad, TV time, a certain food). Sometimes in order to get something, your children have learned what behavior to do. You have raised some smart children. They will sometimes try to wear you down in order for you to cave and provide them with what they desire.
Escape: “You need to finish your homework.” Do you find that your children begin to engage in negative behaviors when you’ve asked them to do something? Your child may be letting you know, "I don't want to do what you've asked." Sometimes, even a fight can get them 5-10 min away from when they were asked to do something. So did they win?
Sensory: Your child is letting you know, "I am physically enjoying this." This can occur when the physical aspect of engaging in the behavior is what is continuing to reinforce the inappropriate behaviors (i.e. hand flapping, some forms of aggression). This means that how you approach the behavior concern will be different than other reasons they do things.
What do we do once we have determined the function? Stay tuned to our next post that will help provide more information on techniques used once its determined why your children are behaving in certain ways!
About the Author
Daisy Monterroso, M.S
Ms. Monterroso has worked with a diverse population for over 8 years. Daisy finds her passion in assisting families manage behavioral concerns, reunify their connections and encourage parents to feel empowered and confident when parenting. Daisy has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from University of Florida and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University. Daisy is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy at Nova Southeastern University.
Daisy founded Monterroso Integrative Services, INC to provide the community with quality ABA services that focus on providing unique services for the family as well. She has brought together a team of professionals that share her passions and devotion to helping families. Daisy has experience in behavior analysis (ABA), individual psychotherapy, couples counseling, family therapy, life coaching and parent coaching, while working extensively with families struggling with their children’s behavioral concerns, anger concerns, aggression, school-related concerns, motivational issues, and social skills deficits. She believes each person in the family has an integral part in treatment and works extensively with parents to help develop skills necessary to increase compliance with their children. She has found that supporting parents has been the most successful way of encouraging change in a family’s home. With parent training and parent coaching, Daisy provides a strength-based approach to empower parents to develop the skills to help them be the parents they desire to be.