Are my child’s negative behaviors caused by their desire to misbehave or aggravate us deliberately?

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By Vicky Westra

That’s what we often think! However, these thoughts put us in the Red Zone (experiencing frustration, blame, anger, discouragement), which is not a good feeling place).

The truth of the matter is that your child’s negative behavior typically comes from something that’s putting them in the Red Zone. These things can include:

1. Sensory– something they are experiencing through one of their senses that is overloading their system. It might be related to their physical environment, including noise, lighting, tactile issues, etc.

2. Nutrition – something they ate is affecting them adversely. With our population being highly sensory, food can affect mood, mental and emotional states. Eating the wrong foods can sometimes affect their emotional state.

3. Communication – a portion of our autism community is non-verbal, has unreliable speech, or might take a little while to process and express what they are thinking.

4. Intuitive abilities – much of our population is multi-sensory. That means they can sense other’s emotions. Unfortunately, when they are around those experiencing negative emotions, they can frequently sense them, thereby affecting their emotional states.

The next time your child is having problematic behaviors, instead of joining them in the Red Zone (where you can’t help yourself or them), seek to engage your curiosity and compassion. Instead of jumping to the conclusion that their behavior is deliberate, ask yourself the question, “What might be causing this behavior, and is there something I can do to help guide them to a better feeling place?

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