In continuing the series on Becky A. Bailey’s book, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, I’ll be talking about her #2 reason why misbehavior serves as a vital function and can be looked at as a good thing.
In her book, Ms. Bailey says that the #2 reason is:
“Misbehavior teaches children how to communicate in order to get their needs met. All misbehaviors offers an opportunity to teach and to learn. Our responses to misbehavior teach children how to get their needs met.”
Think about what she said….OUR responses to their behavior teaches our children how to get their needs met. Hhhhhmmmm….let that resonate.
How do you respond? How do I respond? What exactly are we supposed to be doing to respond so that we get a postive outcome next time….lasting learning? Our goal is to prevent misbehaviors before they even start…..we’ll never make them stop completely….that is absurd to think that will ever happen. Our goal is to get your child to think before they act.
Just how the heck do we do that?
If I/we teach our children that negative behaviors achieve a goal, you’re going to get more negative behaviors. Guaranteed. I’d rather teach my child that he is able to achieve this goal…it’s within his reach. This is going to take a lot of persistence, hard work, and lots of effort.
Look at your situations…..does your child say, cry/scream/beg/whine in the grocery store to get what he/she wants? What is your response to that behavior? Do you give in in order to save face? To stop the whining? To make it easier on YOU? Honestly, you’re not making it easier on anyone! Especially your child.
MM has a horrible time in the grocery store….just a fact of a child with SPD. There is too much stimulus going on all around him. He can only hold it in for so long. Then he loses it…..starts acting out, crying, screaming, grabbing stuff off the shelves, laughing hysterically, kicking us, and I could go on and on and on…..but if you live with a child who has RAD….you know this scene….you live it, too.
So, what is it I personally do when these situations arise? Well, I try to calm MM using several techniques such as holding him (yes…even though he’s hitting me, kicking me, screaming in my face) and speaking softly to him to “sssshhh, calm down honey, mommy’s here, it’s ok, I’ve got you.” as I kiss him on the cheek…..over and over and over. Usually within minutes he just simply melts. He starts to play with my hair and rests his head on my shoulder….I can feel his body totally relax as he’s doing this. If the prior technique is not working…..then I hold MM, and take him out to the vehicle….and do everything I can to get him calm. I let dh finish getting the groceries. Honestly, it isn’t worth it for MM to have to feel that way…he shouldn’t.
I was talking to someone once about taking “things” away from MM as punishment. We must be VERY careful about this. Our RAD children attach to objects rather than us. If I take away MM’s favorite toy car for example, he feels like I’m actually taking away his “love”…..he even said this before. I took his car away and put it on top of the fridge, he screamed, and cried, saying, “You’re taking away my love!” WHOA!! Did that ever stop me in my tracks!! How could I, a loving mommy, do that to him? I truly want total healing in MM, and how is that going to happen if I’m taking away his “love?”
This is not an easy road, by any stretch of the imagination! We sometimes feel alone, scared, unsure of what we’re doing and is it really working? Don’t fret….if you’re seeing positive changes, no matter how small, then it IS working!! Keep at it…..don’t give up…..your child is worth every bit of hard work and persistence you’ve got.
So, as Ms. Bailey put it…..All misbehavior give the opportunity to teach and to learn…..remind yourself of that next time your child does something undesirable. If we don’t teach….what are they learning?
Blessings to you and your children….