The Function of Behavior

Many of you have just conferenced with your child’s teacher and have seen the component within that is a behavioral checklist.  Often we discuss the cause, or “function”, of the behavior.  Young children can often act out of control because that is exactly how they’re feeling.  As an example, if a 2 year old boy swings his hand at peers when they are nearing the center where he is playing, we need to help him to identify his feeling of worry.  He may worry that someone will knock down his tower or perhaps that there aren’t enough of that toy to share.  We can then provide him with the tools he needs to resolve this conflict.  We show children how to share, take turns, or sign the word stop.  It is important for us to teach replacement behaviors that are realistic.  A child may need to be taught it is okay to walk away and get a drink at the water fountain in order to cool off.  If we examine behaviors as objectively as possible, it can help us approach them as teachable moments and also will serve to preserve our relationship with the child.  (They really didn’t do it just to make you mad!)

Enjoy your children!