I was looking through some documents from Grad school recently and came across an activity that one of my professors had the class complete. The class was given a series of scenarios that demonstrate "undesirable behavior". We were challenged to "find the good" in each situation. I think you might find it interesting... and maybe even help you start to think about your child's behaviors differently.
Scenario 1: "A child shows signs of depression following her parents divorce."
Find the Positive 1: The child is showing that he has a "good attachment" to his/her parents. The child is relationally oriented (meaning... totally normal!). *good attachment means the child has a healthy bond with the parent(s) or caretaker(s).
Scenario 2: "A young child is too nervous/worried to go to kindergarten."
Find the Positive 2: The child is showing signs of good early attachment.
Scenario 3: "A 7th grader goes into his teacher's desk and steals the answer key to the test."
Find the Positive 3: The child wants to do well on the test! He/she is taking initiative, is showing skill, and is seeking limits. *limit seeking shows a desire for parenting strategies that provide rules... also a sign of good attachment (or wanting better attachment).
Scenario 4: "A fifteen-year old client you (the counselor) are seeing tells you that she had unprotected sex last weekend."
Find the Positive 4: There is trust in the counseling relationship. This is a good OPPORTUNITY to talk and provide education as well as support around safe sex. The teen may not know that unprotected sex is dangerous.
Scenario 5: "A hyperactive boy continues to get reprimanded in school for blurting out in class."
Find the Positive 5: The boy is engaged in the material. He has confidence and is outgoing. He may be seeking limits. He is IN school! This could serve as a good opportunity for potential help.
Scenario 6: "A teenage girl has been living with her grandmother for the past five years. Grandmother reports on interview (with the counselor) that her granddaughter treats her in a disrespectful way and often has 'attitude'."
Find the Positive 6: The teenage girl may be "differentiating" (seeking independence, an age appropriate developmental skill). She is communicating with her Grandma, and it doesn't sound like she is acting out in other ways. Perhaps the grandmother isn't up to date on "normal" teenage behavior, and this could be a good opportunity for education on appropriate developmental behaviors. The teenager isn't overly compliant, which is positive.
Scenario 7: "Father comes back after a 5 day business trip. On the night after his return, his 3 year old son bites him on his hand when they are playing on the floor."
Find the Positive 7: The 3 year old feels "safe enough" to act out his aggression (a sign of good attachment). This could serve as a good opportunity for the father and child to "repair" their relationship.
I hope this post serves as a helpful tip on thinking about "undesirable behavior" in a new, more helpful way. Cheers!