Although it can seem reasonable to think that a child is willfully behaving badly, most of the time a child is not purposely trying to be defiant toward those who are caring for them.
This is not to say that a child shouldn’t learn to take responsibility for their own actions, because that is actually a trait of good character as a person grows up.
However, it is more beneficial for the parent and the child when the parent views their child’s behaviors with this question in mind:
- “What in my child’s environment is contributing to this behavior?”
By considering how the environment plays a role in your child’s behavior, you can look at your child with more positivity and have a more optimistic outlook as to the possibility of realistic and desirable changes that you’d like to help your child achieve.
What Does Considering the Environment really mean?
When considering how the environment plays a role in your child’s behaviors, you should look at multiple aspects of what goes on around your child in the physical space that he or she spends their time.
What happens before problem behaviors?
To focus on the environment instead of thinking your child is at fault, consider what happens before the problem behaviors that you are trying to help your child reduce or eliminate.
Here are some examples:
- What happens most of the time before your child throws a tantrum?
- What happens most of the time before your child harms himself (such as with self-injurious behavior like scratching himself)?
- What happens most of the time before your child hits his sibling? Or takes a toy away from his brother?
- What happens most of the time before your child yells at mom or dad?
What happens after the problem behaviors?
To focus on the positive and to help you in your efforts to assume that your child is doing their best, consider the environment also by thinking about what happens after their problem behaviors.
Using the same examples as above, consider what happens most of the time after that problem behavior.
Benefits of assuming your child is doing their best
Assuming that your child is doing their best may seem counter intuitive when you want to encourage them to do better. This is especially true for children who are able to verbally communicate and who have close to age-appropriate listening comprehension skills.
It can be frustrating when thinking about how you want your child to do better. Even more frustrating is when you’ve seen your child actually behave better or even when you feel in your parental instincts, your mother or father intuition, that your child can in fact do better.
Assuming your child is doing their best given the situation they are in can help you to stay positive which is one factor in helping your child to actually behave better and learn new skills.
On a side note, maintaining positivity is also found to be beneficial for promoting positive health and wellness and reducing health-related and stress-related diseases.
Assume your child is doing their best given the situation they are experiencing. To help you do this, consider how the environment or what is happening around your child, before and after their behavior, influences your child’s behavior.