Don't know where to start when trying to figure out why your child is having meltdowns, tantrums and aggression?
Well, this is the blog for you! I'm going through the key reasons as to WHY behaviours occur. This will then help you to decide WHAT to do to prevent the inappropriate and difficult behaviours.
What do I mean by 'function'? Well, this refers to the reason as to why the behaviour is occurring. Often behaviours are occurring because the child or individual isn't able to communicate their needs appropriately. I'd like to encourage you to think "What is my child trying to communicate to me?". This can help guide you to figure out the function of the behaviour. The reason as to why the behaviour is occurring could also link to your child's difficulty with coping with different situations or changes that occur. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you to figure out the function of your child's behaviour:
1. What is my child trying to GAIN or get when they display the difficult behaviour?
Are they trying to get my attention?
Are they trying to gain a toy that someone is playing with?
Are they trying to go outside?
Are they trying to gain sensory stimulation (this can be the case for children with autism or developmental disabilities)?
Are they trying to gain something they are not allowed to have?
Are they trying to get entertainment (they are finding it fun doing the inappropriate behaviour)?
Are they trying to control people and items in their environment?
2. What is my child trying to AVOID or ESCAPE when they display the difficult behaviour?
Are they trying to escape an environment they don't like? What in that environment don't they like?
Are they trying to avoid following instructions they don't want to follow?
Are they trying to escape sensory stimulation (e.g. a noisy room, crowds of people)?
Are they trying to avoid tasks that are difficult for them?
Are they trying to avoid people helping them?
Are they trying to avoid making a mistake (they are a perfectionist)?
Are they trying to avoid changes?
Keep in mind that behaviours can serve different functions at different times. The same inappropriate behaviour (e.g. screaming) could be used to get your attention one day, and then to avoid eating dinner the next day.
You might also see a number of different behaviours being used for the SAME function (e.g. your child will display screaming or crying or hitting to avoid going to the store).
Understanding and determining the funciton of behaviours can sometimes be a tricky task, especially with children who don't have expressive language or whom have delayed language, a cognitive delay, autism or another disability. In these situations it is recommended to seek further individualized support for you and your child.