I often hear in parenting classes “My child had a temper tantrum for no reason” or “Every time I get on the phone my kid is pulling on me” “My kid won’t put her shoes on when we have to go” Often as parents we can see the BEHAVIOUR (tantrums, crying, screaming, pinching…) and then we discipline (time out, take away toys, lecture) Often parents don’t see the WHY. What is the antecedent for the behaviour, WHY are they doing it?
When we say “behaviour” we are really asking: is it willful? Willful implies that the child knows what he did and made a conscious decision to act that way, or that the behavior is within the child’s control. Believing that a behavior is willful implies that the child meant to do it. (Murray-Slutzky and Paris 2005)
*So when you are witnessing or attempting to resolve a child’s behavior remember the ABC’s.
A Antecedent (why?)
Most people forget to consider step “A” and move right into addressing the behavior which results in a consequence or punishment which may or may not be effective long term. The goal is to have the child experience an emotion which will help them to understand why the behavior is inappropriate.
I want you all to stop for a moment and look back. Look back at the last tantrum and try and figure out WHY. There is ALWAYS a reason (attention, power, feeling inadequate (helpless), revenge, hunger, sleepy…) These are sometimes hard to see, sometimes takes a trained eye, but you will soon start to notice the WHY and be PROACTIVE.