Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nature Abhors a Vacuum: What does your child REALLY want?

A few years ago I was visiting with an excellent young therapist. We started talking about data collection and about making it simpler to which she responded how difficult it was to simplify data collection on the aggressive behaviors she was observing and which she was at times on the receiving end. (It is important to note that the therapist was not in any danger of harm in this situation.)

This brought me back to my tired old record, which I play quite often, about finding the reason for aggressive or harmful behaviors and finding and teaching a replacement behavior.
It is important to do a thorough assessment of current levels of behaviors of the person that you are working with.
Occasionally it is important to reassess the level of those behaviors, especially if there is danger; you can not totally ignore them. Safety comes first.

Our conversation thought, brought me to talking about the Hawthorne Effect. A good therapist should have a good understanding of a number of different effects including Hawthorne, Pygmalion and Halo. See: & . You must ask yourself what the effect has been, is and/or will be of continually and frequently measuring an inappropriate behavior.

Wrath of Kahn “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Parents also need to know and understand that what we focus on increases and there is almost always a reason for poor behavior.  Often the child is either getting something from the poor behavior or getting out of something negative, or both.  Lots of times what appears to be the surface reason is only a cursory reason, the real reason, the primary reason is hidden somewhere below the surface. 
Understand what the child is getting or getting out of because of the behavior and provide a more appropriate way to achieve the same or a similar goal.  Sometimes what they appear to desire is inappropriate and something you can not give them or let them avoid, that's when you need to look for the underlying reasons.  There are other tools on this site that will help you find them.  You are also welcome to ask questions in the comments section.
Supplemental Material:
Better Outcomes: How to write Measurable Behavioral Objectives, Goals and Plans

No comments: