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If you feed it…

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September 14, 2014 by Arwen McGilvra

To get to the root of negative behavior and weed it out you have to understand how that behavior got planted in the first place. Stop feeding the cause and the behavior is likely to change.

There are a few usual suspects you should look at first; are they hungry? tired? sick? is it a communication issue? frustration?

Usually there are simple steps to help solve those issues, and possibly make sure they are not cause for misbehavior in the future. Another cause that often gets over-looked is attention seeking. This one is sneaky, sometimes the behavior is simply a, “Hey look at me mom!” Other times it’s those big crocodile tears, and pouty lips. And sometimes it’s a tag-a-long to another behavior.

Giving any attention to these attention seeking misbehavior’s will only cause them to be repeated and eventually become a habit. Even rolling your eyes, sighing or huffing your breath will give them a sign that you have noticed them.

During the days when her mom is at work I watch our 4 year old goddaughter. She has gotten into a habit of putting on what I call the sad show when ever someone corrects her. It was a natural reaction when she was younger to be sad and cry when she got into trouble, her limited vocabulary would keep her from being able to express herself at those times. But then her mother would hold her and console her and talk with her until she felt better.

Well now she has the vocabulary to express herself, but she still puts on the sad show multiple times a day, whenever she gets corrected for anything. Didn’t wash her face completely… ask her to do it again… sad show. Was told to bring one toy… brought two and now has to leave one in the car… sad show. Accidentally playing too rough… ask her to be careful… sad show.

Why the sad show to all the little incidents? You should be able to guess it… it’s because she’s looking for the attention she has learned she can get from it. Each time to you give in to comfort her you are feeding the misbehavior.

Instead I give her the correction and ignore the sad show, walking out of the room if I have to. Around me the she hasn’t been putting on the show much any more. In fact she will usually follow me and ask in her normal and pleasant voice, “What are you doing Arwen?” And we can go on with our day.

Next time find out how to give the right kind and amount of attention to prevent these behaviors.

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