Trust The Children

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Behavior Has Its Reasons

Have you noticed?

When we have had groups over to the house to discuss home schooling, more often than not the discussion includes something about family behavior problems. This often which leads to thoughtful questions about parenting skills or more often the need for improved parenting skills.

Having worked our way through the good part of 11 children, I feel sometimes that others want to know what our "secret sauce" is. I don't mind their asking, because over the years we have done our share of the asking too. At the same time, since families are so different, our "answer" might not work, much less make sense. Our kids are ... our kids. And having 11 in one home is different than having 1 or 2 or 3. You get my drift. Sure, we might offer a word or two, but it is always with a bit of reservation, because honestly if we had had one child like some I see at church, we might not have had 11. The parents I respect are the ones who have "one" of those, and do so well with them. We have had, so far, knock on wood, a pretty easy ride.

Still there is one thought that I have shared recently that opened the "eyes of my understanding" when I read it.
The thought is, drum roll please....... "behavior has it's reasons". Those reasons are not often "evil" either.

I came across this idea in "Pay Attention to the Children" Lessons for Teachers and Parents from Sylvia Ashton Warner by Sydney Gurewitz Clemens.

Clemens said, "Your troubles are somehow lighter when you name them, and your triumphs are brighter when you proclaim them." Part of "naming" your troubles is asking yourself the question, "what is the reason behind this behavior."

Sometimes the reasons are deeper, more complex and harder to get at, than we are capable of doing ourselves. However, I feel strongly that these cases are the exception and not the rule. More often getting to the "reasons why" isn't so hard, though it requires some effort. For example, "I miss my daddy." Doesn't that tell a story? Again, "Mom, do you have time to play?" This tells a story too, doesn't it?

If I might venture into a spiritual arena for a minute, LDS Prophet Spencer W. Kimball made this observation that is having an ongoing impact on my life,

"Jesus saw sin as wrong but also was able to see sin as springing from deep and unmet needs on the part of the sinner. This permitted him to condemn the sin without condemning the individual. We can show forth our love for others even when we are called upon to correct them. We need to be able to look deeply enough into the lives of others to see the basic causes for their failures and shortcomings." Ponder this for a minute.

Often we need to take a step back, to take 3 steps forward. In our relationships with our children, which certainly impacts how we facilitate our children's learning at home, take a minute or even an hour or even a day or two, and busy your mind with the question, "What are the possible reasons behind this behavior I am observing?" Sure your home schooling plan for this period of time goes to heck in a hand basket. Yet, when the answer to that question begins to come, you will march ahead at such a pace, that the loss won't even be felt. This process isn't like instant pudding. But it tastes a whole lot better nonetheless. Keep looking for the reasons behind the behavior. There is nothing quite like, "Oh, NOW I understand."


  • Wow-thanks! "behavior has it's reasons" I often over think many things about raising my daughter but this idea is wonderful and very useful. Can you post a link to the article you referred to in the post.

    By Anonymous Nina, at 12:45 PM, November 03, 2006  

  • Sorry, no link. Just the book mentioned in the article. I haven't done an exhaustive study of Sylvia Ashton Warner. Pat Montgomery made mention of Warner as a contributor to her education philosophy. Since I respect Pat, I decided to find out what she found so interesting. Warner had personal problems, but her ideas in education make a lot of sense to me. "Behavior has it's reasons", is just one of them.

    By Blogger Mark and Cyndy Weiss, at 11:23 AM, November 06, 2006  

  • This is the grammar police! The possessive of it is its; it's is a contraction for it is. Behavior has ITS reasons.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:31 AM, November 14, 2006  

  • Thanks to the grammar police. I no better but sumtimes dont not proof read all to good.

    By Blogger Mark and Cyndy Weiss, at 12:02 PM, November 14, 2006  

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