Marty Beyer, Ph.D. explains "underlying needs" as what drives behaviors. When working with children and teenagers., we are quick to focus on "problem behaviors" and attempt to "fix" instead of understanding the needs behind the behaviors. Focusing only on behavior can be ineffective and harmful while possibly putting the children/teenagers, family and community at risk. It is important to understand how children and teenagers will often comminicate their unconscious needs with behaviors rather than words, so that you as their therapist or their parent can provide tailored services and/or supports based on needs.
This is especially evident in younger children who do not have the vocabulary or the awareness to express their needs. However, if that young child is never taught how to recognize, validate and express their feelings they will rely on the same methods of expression that they used as children. So, Parent's and Therapist, remember to look beyond the behavior. Pay attention to what is going on in the child's live such as important events, anniversaries, are they having difficulties in school or difficulties socially, are the being bullied. Their can be any number of preciptating factors for the child's behavior that can be very easily overlooked if you are not careful.
When my children are cranky or are having difficulty expressing themselves, I try to help them identify the feelings that they are having, then I make my best attempts to validate the feelings. Parents, what works for you? Please share any tips that you might have to help us communicate with our children and to teach them how to communicate.