Tip Tuesday! Identifying why your child misbehaves: WHY DOES MY CHILD DO THAT?! (post 3/4)

Posted on July 21st, 2015

We hope our tips for understanding your child's behavior have been helpful! So far we have looked at why people behave the way they do in general and how to identify the things that happen right before the inappropriate behavior occurs. Today, we will look at the things that happen right after the behavior occurs.

Behaviors happen for a reason, so what did your child’s behavior accomplish?  Did they stop something they did not like from happening?  Did they get attention or access to something they enjoy? 

Let's consider some examples to help identify the consequences.

Your children are fighting over a toy and Susie hits Johnny. You immediately scold the Susie, remove the toy from her and give it to Johnny. Behavior: hitting. Consequence: removal of the toy and attention in the form of reprimands.

Johnny asks for a cookie before dinner and you say no. He begins to tantrum and after two minutes of trying to reason with him, you give him a cookie so you can finish cooking dinner in peace. Behavior: tantrum. Consequence: The immediate consequence was attention provided and access to the cookie was denied, however, the consequence to continued tantrumming is access to a cookie.

Susie asks if she can please go outside and play. You say yes. Behavior: asking appropriately. Consequence: access to a preferred location.

Susie asks if she can please go outside and play. You say no and Susie begins to whine and stomp her feet. You tell her to go to her room. Behavior: whining and stomping. Consequence: access denied and time out.

Johnny begins his math homework and becomes frustrated quickly. He bangs his fists on the table, breaks the pencil, and screams. You tell Johnny to go to his room until he is ready to behave appropriately. Behavior: breaking a pencil, screaming, and pounding. Consequence: removal of the task/demand.



Behaviors don’t work every time, so if nothing obvious jumps out keep watching.  The consequence could be something unexpected.  For example, negative attention like yelling could be maintaining a behavior.




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