I always wanted to be a private eye, not because I particularly wanted to sit around watching people through binoculars all day but more because I am keenly interested in human nature and on TV P.I.’s always had cool cars. I settled and became a therapist instead. Same job really, but my car isn’t as flashy.
Turns out being a parent of children who are difficult to raise requires a similar skill set. Before you can intervene in a problem behavior you have to understand the meaning of it. That requires investigation.
The best way to start is to ask the question: Why does s/he do that?
Once you know the motivation, it will be easier to design a successful intervention. When answering the question, take into consideration some of the following ideas.
1. The opposite of whatever the child answers because our children do not like their motives to be discovered.
2. To control.
3. For attention.
4. Throw in some outlandish reason only a kid would think makes sense.
5. Make a couple of studied guesses.
Choose the two motivations that you think are the most likely to be right and address your intervention to that motivation. If the problem behavior doesn’t change once you address what you think is the correct motivation, move down your list. You may have it wrong. Keep going. Eventually you will begin to understand your child the way a detective understands the subject.