behavior as fast as possible.The problem is,though,that behavior is just a symptom of
an underlying problem.Focus on stopping the symptom and you might not eliminate
the problem.Perhaps you will get the child to stop biting,but now the same underlying
problem will be expressed with new symptoms such as tantrums or withdrawal.
To understand this better, imagine that you have had chronic, severe headaches.
You have tried a few aspirin and other over-the-counter painkillers to address the
symptom, but nothing has eliminated the headaches. What would be your next step?
You might go to your family doctor. The doctor would gather information from you
about your symptoms and about what you had tried so far. Next, the doctor would
schedule a number oftests to diagnose the underlying problem.Perhaps the problem is
low blood sugar or migraines or a vision issue or stress or a brain tumor.Each ofthese
problems would require a different approach to eliminate the headaches.
The same is true with children’s behavior. Perhaps the tantrums are a result of
stress,or maybe they are a learned behavior,or they might be due to limited language
or few self-regulation skills. Maybe the child doesn’t know how to solve problems or
maybe the child uses tantrums to get a need met. Until you figure out the underlying
problem,you can’t figure out the best way to address the symptom.
Build the Six Life Skills
The most effective way to help a kid change a problem behavior is not to address the
behavior itself, but instead to address the strengths that underlie the behavior. Every
time we intervene with a misbehaving child, here is the first question we should ask
ourselves:Am I helping this child to build the six strengths,or am I moving this child
even further in the wrong direction?
If the response or intervention moves a child further away from building the six
underlying strengths,how can we expect more positive behavior?
When you have questions about interventions or strategies you are using or think-
ing of using,always ask yourself“Will using this strategy help build or weaken the six
strengths this child needs to thrive in today’s world?”
Will the strategy move the child to see you as a supportive and loving ally or as an
opponent who works against them? Will the strategy help the child feel safe and secure
or add a layer offear and apprehension?
Will the strategy build ties,friendships,bonds,and a team or family feeling? Or will the
strategy single this child out as somewhat unappealing, unacceptable, and deficient?
Will the strategy move the child to be more a part of the group or will the child feel
more apart from the group?
Beyond Behavior Management1100