Chatting with a friend today, I mentioned some of Don C. Dinkmeyer’s work, from Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, thus:
One of the tools I've found helpful is 'parent reaction'...to discover the probable underlying need expressed through [a child’s] intense behaviour.
When you are irritated or annoyed, it's probably attention the child is seeking... When you're angry or want revenge, it's probably power. When you give up and feel despondent, it's a mirror of the child having given up on ever feeling successful.
Or, as she rephrased it:
when your child does x, and you feel __________, the child needs __________.
I like it when people sort out my thoughts more clearly than I can.
What I like about this tool is that it stops asking the child the horrible question ‘why?’ Kids don’t have a clue what they’re not successfully getting that they need, whether it be attention or power or a feeling of capability.
The other thing I like about this tool is its inherent respect for the sanity and needs of the child. A misbehaving child is not insane, bad or wrong … but struggling to meet needs and attempting creative means to accomplish their valid goals.
It is valid to need attention, power and a sense of being capable. The naturally immature methods use in their bids to get what they sense they need are information and communication –not misbehaviour.