About Michael Woods

Father of 3 boys, triplets, each on the autism spectrum. Believes that parent's are each others best resource and encouragement! Founder of Relational Crisis Prevention.
Author Archive | Michael Woods

One Reason Why Parents Do What They Do

In my previous post I left off with a question pertaining to YOUR nonproductive responses towards your child’s challenging behaviors that leave you asking yourself, “Why in the world do I keep doing that?”  Good question and it’s one that I’ve asked myself on more than one occassion.

Answer:  because according to the Choice Law you make the choices that you do because at some level (conscious or unconscious) the results work for you; there’s a payoff.  Caution:  be aware that you may have some blind spots to the impact of your payoff system (I did!).

You would think that rational, normal-thinking adults would not repeat behaviors that leave them feeling guilty, frustrated, and upset with themselves!  However, if you’re like me I’ll bet that you could come up with a list of personal examples where you’ve done this:

  • You eat when you know that you shouldn’t.
  • You smoke when you really don’t want to smoke.
  • You give in to demands when you know you should stand your ground.
  • You lose your temper when it’s the last thing you wanted to do.

Let me repeat this:  the Choice Law says that we choose our behaviors because we perceive (consciously or unconsciously) that they will serve a purpose…generate some level of value for us…no matter how illogical this sounds.  I’ll bet that you have life-examples, perhaps the ones I listed above, that cause you to know that what I’m saying is true.

So how can you use this information to continue to strive to strengthen your relationships with your child rather than cause possible long-term damage to your relationship?  Well, I’m not a psychologist so all that I can tell you is what has worked for me:

  1. Write out a list of the three most nonproductive responses towards your child that you tend to repeat.  Be specific about what you do and/or say.
  2. Write down one to two sentences explaining why you find this nonproductive pattern negative.
  3. For each of the nonproductive responses listed above write down the perceived outcome or payoff that is maintaining the nonproductive response(s).  This will be the hard part and might require a trusted friend to help you.
  4. Once you find your payoff for your nonproductive responses toward your care-receiver you need to establish a course of action for positive change.  Here’s a cheatsheet for 29 ways to positive change:  http://zenhabits.net/the-habit-change-cheatsheet-29-ways-to-successfully-ingrain-a-behavior/

The bottom line:  at some level, our negative responses towards our children’s challenging behaviors are often shaped by the outcomes we think OUR behaviors will produce.  People have a tendency to do what they perceive will work.  Finding your payoff and plotting a course of personal change will help you to regain personal control and positively strengthen the relationship between you and your child on the spectrum!

As you know, sometimes the journey to self-discovery is not easy, in fact, it can be downright difficult.  But it’s worth it because in the end you can look yourself in the mirror and know that you’ve done everything possible to be the best parent that you’ve been called to be.

Michael Woods (Founder of Relational Crisis Prevention)

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One Reason Why Children Do What They Do

Let’s be honest.  The truth is that sometimes we are totally baffled as to why our child with autism does the things s/he does!  If you’re the type of parent who’s open to new concepts, and I’ll bet you are, then I’d like to share one with you concerning challenging behaviors.  It’s called the Choice Law.

The Choice Law states that at any given moment children have choices…and they will always choose to do what they think will work for them!  Doesn’t matter whether they are boy or girl, tall or short, or mild to severe on the spectrum!  It’s the law and here’s what it says:

You do what you do because at some level (conscious or unconscious) you believe your choice of behaviors is going to benefit you.

It’s a very highly reliable law of behavior and if you take a few minutes to reflect back on your life history you’ll know that there’s truth to it.

Let me say it another way because it’s important that you get this:  if your child did not perceive his/her behavior as generating a positive outcome for himself he would not do it.  Plain and simple.  No matter how illogical or strange his behavior may seem he is engaging in it in order to create some potential beneficial result.

Let me state it yet another way because it’s really really important that you get this if you are going to successfully trouble-shoot challenging behaviors:  if your child chooses to engage in a behavior again and again it is because it produces (at least from his perspective) a potential beneficial outcome.  Conversely, if your child does not engage in a behavior again and again it is because it did not produce (from his perspective) a beneficial outcome!

Therefore, one of the first steps in reducing crisis behaviors or de-escalating crisis behaviors is to determine what the perceived beneficial outcome is from your child’s perspective.

But hold on because that’s not where I want to go with this blog post!

The direction that I want to move towards is the understanding and application of how this life law applies to YOU and how YOU respond to your child’s challenging behaviors.  If you’re like me, you’ve responded to your child in ways that causes you to shake your head in disbelief and ask yourself:

  • “What is wrong with me?”
  • “Why on God’s earth do I keep doing that?”
  • “I hate myself when I do that, so why do I keep doing it?”

Good questions.  Answer:  people do what they think will work for them. But that’s just part of the story.

Let’s talk more about this idea applies to parents in my next post…

Author:  Michael Woods (Founder of Relational Crisis Prevention)

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