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Understanding Children’s Behavior

I sometimes tell parents that all of the things that my son has done (so far) that have irritated, frustrated, or infuriated me are things that, from a developmental perspective, I wanted him to do. I just didn’t want him to do them to me or at those particular moments!”
– Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D. (1996, p. 87)

Contrary to what you might think at times, a child’s behavior is not dreamed up for the sole purpose of driving you bonkers. All behavior fulfills a need and serves some type of purpose. Pinpointing the motivations behind a child’s behavior is key to becoming a more effective parent, teacher, or caregiver.

A child’s behavior is also molded by the overall environment, since no child operates within a vacuum. So when behavioral problems emerge, it’s never about a child “being bad.” It’s about patterns in the environment that are creating a negative feedback loop which is contributing to behavioral problems.

The information is this section is designed to help you better understand the root causes of a child’s behavior. Not only will this lead to better solutions for behavioral problems, but knowing more about why children behave as they do will help you remain calm and composed when children inevitably act in ways that test your patience.

  • Seeing the “good” side of bad behavior
  • How to spot the positive intent in what children do (Get Our Positive Parentin book)
  • Behavior from the child’s perspective (Get Our Positive Parentin book)
  • The deeper complexity in children’s behavior (Get Our Positive Parentin book)
  • Uncovering the hidden motivations in your child’s behavior (ebook)

What motivates a child’s behavior?

  • Understanding what motivates a child’s behavior
  • The stroke economy (Get Our Positive Parentin book)
  • How children fall into different patterns and roles (Get Our Positive Parentin book)

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