The Function of Behavior


What is the function of behavior? Have you ever interacted with your child and been baffled why they are acting the way they are? New behaviors emerge such as stealing or fabricating stories, emotional outbursts, becoming more disagreeable or noncompliant. This is especially challenging while going through a family transition. We tend to attribute all of their behavior, even typical behavior as reaction to the transitions, losses and tensions. All behavior has at its root a purpose, a reason, something intended to be accomplished. Sometimes this is survival, sometimes its focus and attention, sometimes it is to regain control or manage anxiety- yes sometimes it is to exact some small revenge or express anger. This is not a bad thing, not a manipulation. Behavior has a function to accomplish. When we stop and think about the function of behaviors, we are engaging our own prefrontal cortex, using our left brain, able to take time and analyze the situation rather than react emotionally, we can then focus on our child’s NEEDS. Take a few minutes, without judging the behavior or feeling a need to consequence it, think about what your child is seeking to accomplish and meet the need. You will likely find a closer relationship and learn more about your child’s adjustment and needs for growing in their coping.


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