This last week Dr. Michele Havens spoke at our Zoom training about, “What Causes your Child’s Behaviors.” The word that is perhaps the most important in this question is “causes.” Dr. Havens talked about 4 causes to watch for and how to decipher which one your child might be using. Once you know the cause it is easier to develop a plan to stop the behaviors. Below are the four causes Dr. Havens talked about.
Is your child seeking attention?
Does your child get bored easily or have a hard time entertaining themselves? When a child feels bored they often will seek attention from you. They also might be jealous that you are spending time with a sibling and demand your undivided attention. They may tug, scream, and roll on the floor until they get your attention. They may yell at or be aggressive to the person they perceive you are giving attention to. Take a closer look at your child’s behavior. Could the cause be attention seeking?
What is your child trying to escape?
My son loved going to school. Suddenly, when the bus came he was nowhere to be found. When I found him, he began screaming and I had to drag him to the bus. It ended up the bus was not the problem. When I got him to the school he ran away from his teacher and would not go near her. We started investigating and found she was inappropriately dealing with some of his sensory issues. Once that was taken care of the behaviors disappeared. A child might be trying to escape people, places, or things. Try to see what your child is trying to escape from.
Is your child struggling with sensory issues?
This is a hard one. It can be difficult to decipher what is sensory and what is a behavior. As a parent, you may want your child to be social and you sign them up for basketball. You get him to the gym and 15 other children are running around the court screaming and dribbling the basketballs. Suddenly your child drops to the floor and assumes a fetal position. He begins crying while clutching his ears. He adamantly refuses to play and wants to go home. Many times parents think the child does not want to play basketball with the other children. Instead, you probably have a child with hearing sensitivity issues that you will need to address. Again, what is causing the behavior? The sensory and/or the social?
Does your child want access to a tangible item?
Does your child like to play video games? What happens when the child has to put the game away. Does it cause a major tantrum or melt down? Take a look at the item. It might be food, toys, or even a particular person. What item(s) is your child seeking or unwilling to give up?
Now that we know the four most common causes of behavior, begin watching your child carefully. When do they have behaviors and what is causing it? Is it attention seeking, escape, sensory, or seeking a tangible item? What is your child trying to accomplish by using the behavior? The behavior is getting them something. What is it? Dr. Havens encouraged all of us to begin watching our children closely, documenting behaviors, and developing an awareness as to what the causes are. Is there a pattern to it?
Awareness is always the first step to finding a resolution. Identifying the right cause can help you deal with the behavior more appropriately and/or get the professional help you may need.
Share below what behaviors you have seen and the causes you have found. What do you do to help with these behaviors?
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