Reframing Techniques for a Child's Negative Behavior

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr
Your child's motivation gives you a clue to his action and ways to solve negative behaviors.

Your child's motivation gives you a clue to his action and ways to solve negative behaviors.

Some days your child does things that get on your last nerve, creating stress and negative thoughts about your child and the behavior. Reframing, a neuro-linguistic programming technique, suggests that you find a way to see the situation in a positive light so that you understand your child’s behavior and help him find more appropriate conduct. The technique could build cooperation between you and your child to settle behavior concerns.

Assume the Best

It’s easy to assume that your child is out to drive you crazy or that she’s just being defiant. Reframing her behavior assumes that she really wants to do what’s right, but can’t figure out an appropriate way to make it happen. She wants to try something new and develop new skills when you just want her to do the same thing every day because it has worked just fine so far. Assume that there is a positive reason for her resistance to routine and ask her, “What are you trying to do? What would it take for us to work at this together?”

Understand Motivation

Listen to your child’s rationale for his behavior. Perhaps at school he learned there was a quicker or more efficient way to study for a test or the methods that you learn are different than his primary learning style. Once you understand his motive, it becomes easy to see that he isn’t challenging your authority or defying you. Applaud his desire to use techniques that work well for him and for wanting to do his best in the most efficient way possible.

Brainstorm Solutions

Once you understand her motives, you can help her brainstorm appropriate ways to achieve her goal. She might work best late at night when things are quiet and less distracting, for example. Suggest that she start early, but create a quiet zone around her bedroom, requiring younger siblings to play in another part of the house. Alternatively, she might create a study bunker in the attic where no one will be stomping above her head as she studies. For a third option, she could spend some time each day at the library where she has access to materials unavailable in your home. Support the options that you can live with and encourage her to do what she needs to do to accomplish her goals within the limits that you have set.

Positive Terminology

Your brain looks at a situation and draws conclusions based upon your experience and beliefs. You might have no idea why someone does what he does, but changing your terminology gives you a different perspective. An aggressive child is actually asserting his rights. A disruptive child could be eager to get on with the next activity or simply need to move in order to learn. The class clown could be hiding insecurities or possess a witty sense of humor. It’s all about perspective.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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