Understanding WHY Your Child Behaves The Way They Do!

The other day, I had a friend reach out and ask what my thoughts were on discipline. She was wondering if I had done any articles on how I address consequences. The quick answer… No! The reason- in behavior analysis, there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to handling behaviors. We must understand WHY the child is engaging in a behavior before we address it. So, this conversation I had with my friend led me to begin the thought process on how I would best articulate this subject with my mama bee tribe!

Understanding the Why?

So, do you ever wonder WHY your kids are behaving the way that they are? It is usually one of four reasons and I am going to help you figure out how to identify it! BeeHaven Tribe’s next series will talk all about why your kids act the way they do. In my world, we call this ‘functions of behavior’. So, let’s get out our detective hats mama’s because we about to get our Sherlock Holmes on! Based on the WHY, you can then figure out how to handle each behavior and make sure the consequence fits the crime!

4 Functions of Behavior

Okay, not to get all technical on you but there are 4 main functions of behaviors. When you feel like your kids are getting a little cray cray, it is usually for one of these reasons.

  • To GAIN ATTENTION– “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy”— OMG, Child! Can’t a mama have some peace to go to the bathroom?!
  • For DENIED ACCESS to a preferred item- Child drops to the floor in protest when you take the phone away… We’ve all been there!
  • To ESCAPE a non-preferred activity or demand- You know that moment when your child is REFUSING to clean up the toys in the living and company is coming over in T minus two seconds… Yeah, that’s good ol escape maintained behavior.
  • AUTOMATIC REINFORCEMENT– So yeah, you know when your babe likes to twirl their hair before bed… That is because it is automatically soothing to them.

In the next few weeks I will discuss in more detail about each of these four functions and talk about suggested course of actions. Each function comes with their own “reactive plans” in terms of how to handle that type of behavior.

So stay on board if you are interested in learning more about different functions of behavior and how to address those challenging behaviors!

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