All behaviors are a result of unmet needs — The Bump

All behaviors are a result of unmet needs

I'm at the annual RN convention for my job and a good proportion of the people we work with are developmentally disabled. My boss was doing a presentation and said the above statement in relation to this group. Her point was that instead of correcting the behavior and trying to change the person, you can try and find out what their need is and fix the cause of the problem.

This is such a simple concept and something that can really be applied to all children as well. 9 times out of 10 when my son is acting up, he is tired or hungry. Feed him dinner or get him some sleep and he is a different kid. Even though I know he gets this way, you would be amazed at how long it takes me sometimes to figure out to just give him a snack. I know it's not always easy to figure out what's causing a behavior, and sometimes you just need to set expectations for kids at home and in public settings, but many behavior issues could be solved if the source of the problem could be fixed.

I just wanted to share this because it's so simple yet so profound and something to consciously think about when kids are exhibiting behaviors.
MrsT0514nattyncbridewearallthebabies[Deleted User][Deleted User]lifesaverz

Re: All behaviors are a result of unmet needs

  • Agreed.  I read "Getting the Love You Want" during a self help phase post-divorce.  It has the same message as it pertains to adult relationships.  However, like the OP, I had never thought about this for either DS or marriage, and it blew my mind, as obvious as it may be.
    If being a math nerd is wrong, I don't wanna be right!
  • I'll agree.I'm sure that if you dissect each scenario in which someone reacts in a negative manner, you could find a relatable need not being met at that time.

    I also think when people are trying to figure out a child's behaviour, what is often overlooked is the importance children place on seemingly ( to adults) unimportant things. Yes it is a big deal (to them) if they have to sit in this chair, not that chair. Much like when we were in high school freaking out about something (now remembered as) silly and adults would say, this won't even matter when you are older. But it mattered then YKWIM?

    That being said, we are not mind readers and typically we don't have time to try and figure out every reason our child may be acting like an a - hole and that's okay.
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  • I would agree that this is the case most of the time.  I really need to slow down and remember this when Ollie is being difficult.  I feel like I'm on the go and running behind so much of the time that I often do not slow down to really figure out the problem.  #mommyguilt
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  • Eh, honestly guys, don't be hard on yourselves. Toddlers are little, selfish jerks.  While I do find this theory to be true, it doesn't mean that in order to change behavior you have to overanalyze every thing they do to figure out what they want. Sometimes telling them no and to go sit in time out is the right thing to do.

    *Says the mom who cried yesterday because she felt like the worst, most inept parent in the world because her 2 year old was getting the best of her.

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  • I think the word "need" may be conveying a slightly wrong message. When you are trying to fix a behavior, you first need to figure out what the person (of any age) is getting out of it. It's always one of 5 things, we use the acronym MEATS

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  • I just don't like the implication that your kids would be colic or tantrum or asshole free if you only met their needs. I'm not meeting the 400 pounds of chocolate need, sorrynotsorry.

    Well in actuality, even though we don't know what might be causing colic, there is a cause, even if we cannot fix it.

    I definitely did not want to suggest that parents are neglectful if they can't meet the need or do not give into their toddlers "need" for 10 lbs of chocolate. It's just a way of thinking about in the moment why kids might be doing what they are doing. Are they really just acting age appropriate and there is a simple solution? Or do they need to learn that it's not okay to act out if you don't get what you want when you want it. As they get older, can you compromise on the need (1 piece of candy now, candy after dinner etc).
  • teedaaleeteedaalee member
    edited November 2014

    It’s great you got to attend that convention! I think you raise some good points here!


  • I think this largely makes sense, but like others have said sometimes the need is attention or something they can't have at that moment. So while the tantrum might happen because they "need" something they aren't getting it's still totally appropriate for them to have that tantrum and realize you can't always get what you want.

    DS had a fit yesterday because he had his one piece of Halloween candy and wanted more. It was obvious what he "needed" but that need was not going to be met. Then we played with something and he moved on.

    This exactly. Her need for attention when I can't give it to her, her need to brush her teeth with a specific toothpaste, her need to eat chocolate at 5am. 

    I think there is something to be said still for toddlers being toddlers and trying to flex their muscles. 

    I think the need in these cases is to have control over their own environment and be independent. I see that in dd a lot so when she is freaking out because she wants to wear shorts and it's snowing outside, I tell her she has to wear pants but can pick whatever pants she wants.


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  • I think there are a few separate things going on.  There are times when kids are just kind of off, and clearly something is out of balance, and then it makes sense to go through the list (sick? teething? tired? hungry? thirsty?) to see if there is a problem that can be solved or at least helped in some way.  There are also times when kids are pitching fits due to being kids and wanting things that they can't really have.  In that case, recognizing their need does not change the end result, but may help you avoid some of the exasperation and frustration. 

    Then, of course, there are those times when the behavior is seemingly totally random and makes no sense of any kind despite your best efforts.  That's the remaining 5%.

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    Mags748[Deleted User]
  • I agree! And I agree with lot's of PPers that sometimes the need is learning to regulate their emotions and exercise patience. Since their brains aren't fully developed at a young age it's a challenge between finding the right balance between meeting that need and teaching them patience.

    I think the same can be said about cats! My kitty, Lucy, did not welcome DD into the family 11 months ago. She started acting out and was scared for her. Last month she knocked my hearing aid on the floor and chewed up the earmold to the point I couldn't wear it. I was pretty annoyed, but when I met with the Audiologist she explained to me that sometimes the cat will find an object that smells like you and play with it for comfort. It typically means that they just miss you. So they may play with glasses, a blanket you wear or your my case it was an expensive earmold. Put in that context I was less frustrated with her and vowed to give her a little more TLC because I know I've been lacking in that department.

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    BFP #2: 3.26.13, EDC: 12.7.13. Anya born December 9th, 2013!
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