Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Report

Parenting is hard work. Even the experts aren't an expert at *MY* child, and they are not there when crying children start like dominoes falling, and then I start crying right along with them out of sheer frustration.
I had one of those days on Sunday. I was clutzy, they were clingy, I injured myself, I wept.
At any rate, occasionally the experts have something to say. They give me treats to put in my bag of tricks and help me navigate the sometimes murky waters of growing and nurturing children.
One such book was recommended by my therapist: The Parent's Handbook by Dinkmeyer, McKay, and Dinkmeyer. I thought I'd share one treat from the book that I found helpful, and that is a chart. The chart is labeled, "Goals of misbehavior". Now that right there causes me to take pause. Oh, youmean misbehavior has a goal? Of course it does! Yes, that makes sense. The goals as they group them are: attention, power, revenge, or to display inadequacy.
Here is the kicker. Depending on your OWN feelings, you can ascertain the goal of your child's behavior.
Here is what the book says (paraphrased from the book):
You feel: bothered, annoyed. You usually: scold, nag, remind  Your child: stops temporarily, only to begin again later. The goal: Attention
You feel: angry, threatened. You usually: fight back, punish, give in Your child: defies you, continues to misbehave, does what you've asked slowly or sloppily. The goal: power
You feel: angry, extremely hurt. You usually: punish Your child: misbehaves even more in an attempt to get even The goal: revenge
You feel: hopeless, like giving up You usually: give up, agree child can't do something Your child: does not respond or improve The goal: to display inadequacy
What do you think about this? I think we can all relate to having a child who at varying times turns helpless, needy, defiant, or out of sorts. It helps to know there is a valid, rational reason for the behavior, and for me, that takes the "charge" out of it and allows me to be free to respond with firm, loving boundaries, attention, or encouragement.


  1. Wow, this is spot on. The children reflect what we project and then the endless and frustrating cycle begins and goes on an on and on. Oh to be a conscious parent, it is so hard. Thank you Angle, this is an inspiration and looks like a helpful book, I'm going to check it out. Warmly, Lisa

  2. My husband pointed out the other day that sometimes our 4-y-o seems to be trying to "get back" at me. But, yes, you're right---to think of "goals" of misbehavior is startling! And could be useful. I'm sorry Sunday was such a bad day.

  3. this does help. i try to shake my perspective out of the way enough to understand my son's....but it is a challenge!

    i have lots of early memories of being perceived and labeled by my parents as vengeful or malicious. maybe i was, but i do remember that there were times that could not figure out what i was doing -or why - yet i was expected to explain it.
    that's what i don't want to inflict on my child, and a simple framework (this book's logic) of a possibly complex situation helps a lot. :)

  4. Amy, being vengeful or malicious as a child is a protection from hurt. One feels slighted in some way, or experiences the injustice of the world. I think those feelings are completely understandable.
    I can remember feeling vengeful as a child when I felt misunderstood.
    Lisa, I like that the book has you tune in to your feelings...thus reflecting.

  5. this is so interesting. Thank you for sharing it. I think you make a good point in the comments here about malice etc being a defence against hurt. I believe so much of anger and meanness is about sorrow, pain, fear. And I believe children react this way towards their parents because they feel safe with them and have an unconscious hope of being understood.

    Thanks again for such interesting insights.


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