I have seen a shift happening with regards to how we look at children’s misbehavior. At the beginning of my career, I often heard the philosophy from people that kids who misbehaved were bad, and in need of punishment so that they would be motivated to do better in the future. More often now, I am hearing that people see misbehavior as an ineffective attempt to meet a need that the child has. What kids need in this interpretation is not punishment, but more effective strategies in order to meet their needs.
All day, every day, we are interpreting and giving meaning to what we see happening. It’s a bad kid; it’s a needy kid. Whichever meaning we choose leads us to respond very differently.
In order to be most effective in our interactions with people, we need to be open to alternate interpretations. If we only see things one way, we have a limited array of choices in how we will act. Is that teacher being difficult in refusing to implement a new initiative, or have they not been given the skills to feel competent in trying a new approach? Is my husband showing a lack of respect for me when he leaves his dirty dishes on the counter, or was he running behind schedule and feeling that he needed to spend some time with our kids first? Your answer will dramatically affect what happens next.
Instead of assuming that you know why someone is acting the way that they are, get curious! You may be surprised to find that when you really listen to someone, there is another interpretation that you had not considered, and a more productive road that you may wish to go down.