Why Does Problem Behaviour Happen?
What You Can Do About It
On January 9, 2020, the CareFind Team had the opportunity to learn from Dr. Shane Lynch Ph.D. (Special Education), Registered Psychologist, and Director of Professional Practice and Evaluation at the Sinneave Family Foundation.
Please note this is information summarized from his workshop. We would love to hear from you. Please comment with any questions, thoughts or feedback you may have. Enjoy!
What is Behaviour?
Do you ever wonder why your child behaves a certain way? Do you consider their particular behaviour to be problematic? Behaviour is everything in which we say or do. We tend to focus on the behaviour instead of why it’s happening. Genetics play a role in the ways we behave, biological factors influences our behaviour. For example, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, etc. are all genetics-based disorders. However, in this summary, the focus will be on learned behaviour.
Learned behaviour is behaviour that’s been shaped over time. You can easily identify if behaviour is learned if the behaviour has a change in intensity, frequency or duration. For example, people tend to look at screaming as bad behaviour, however in a situation where a person is being attacked, screaming becomes appropriate behaviour. The situation helps to determine whether the behaviour is appropriate or not.
What is the Motivation Behind Behaviour?
To keep it simple, the tendency for various behaviours is related to whether the person is getting or avoiding situations (ie. social gathering), objects (ie. Ipad), attention, and or an emotional state (i.e happiness when watching movies). An example mentioned by Dr. Lynch was a child who begins crying and screaming when the parent starts talking to another adult. At this point, the parent is frustrated and annoyed however the child is getting what they want which is attention.
From the perspective of the child, behaviour increases when it is followed by desirable outcomes and behaviour decrease when it is followed by undesirable outcomes.
For example, you ask your child to do the dishes. Your child delays and complains about doing the chore. You as the parent gets frustrated with the back and forth and in the end you say “if you don’t want to do the dishes, you can go to your room.” You think you’ve achieved justice by sending your child to a time out. Unfortunately in this situation, your child won the battle. They got exactly what they wanted -to avoid doing the dishes.
How Can You Redirect Problematic Behaviour?
Instead of giving a time out from the task that your child is purposely avoiding, try having your child continue to do the task at hand. Ensure your child understands what to do and has proper instructions to do the task and or provide support if needed. Perhaps the first several times your child is attempting the task, you might choose to show your child how to do the task. Eventually decrease the amount of support over time, let your child earn time to do their favourite activity etc. once they have done the task they are required to do.
The child care field does a great job of redirecting problematic behaviour. Your daycare, preschool, kindergarten and dayhome providers use some of the best positive messaging to redirect children. For example, to deter a child from running, they might say “walking feet please” instead of “stop running” or “what’s wrong with you?”. Being mindful of the ways in which you address your children to redirect behaviour can have everlasting positive effects.
We would love to hear from you. Please comment with any questions, thoughts or feedback you may have for this article.