Debra Lambrecht, Founder, Caulbridge Education | October 13, 2017
Infants will cry to let us know they are hungry or need our help to meet their needs.Toddlers may use simple words and gestures. With time, children learn to communicate their thoughts and needs. Sometimes they use direct language spoken with kindness and other times they might scream or run and hide. When a tantrum is their way of responding to their own helplessness, anxiety or overwhelm it is important to remember that they are showing us their best behavior. Either they are so distraught they can’t find any other way, or they have learned that this actually is the quickest way to get what they want. Even as adults, when we become tired, hungry or anxious our behavior may be different than when we are rested and have some perspective.
We never want to assume the child ‘knows better’. In fact, in this moment they are demonstrating that they do not. Even if just yesterday they behaved differently, today it is clear they need more practice.
All behavior is the reflection of a child’s skills, limitations, emotions and moods within any given environment. It becomes our job as the adults to interpret the behavior and either reinforce or shift behaviors toward healthy development.
As parents and educators, when we start by assuming the child’s behavior is their best solution, we can more clearly identify the problem and provide the best response. This perspective also helps us to remain neutral and not be personally triggered by the acting out behavior.
At Caulbridge School we view all behavior as information. In response, we check first:
1 – Are they safe? Do they need to be shielded from a situation?
2 – Are they seen? We establish a connection for the child to feel cared about and to know there is an adult who can help.
3 – Do they have the skills? What new skill or reminder is needed to shift their current behavior and practice new ones.