Adaptive Behaviors

Having a child with maladaptive behaviors is tough. The child needs the skills to adapt to the world, to be flexible.

Different types of maladaptive behaviors such as crying, screaming, panic attacks, going away, exploding, etc, happen when the demands on the process of thought placed upon a child exceed the child’s means to respond in an adaptive way.

Diagnoses such as ADHD, OCD, or bipolar disorder, do not provide information regarding the thinking patterns and skills that generate the child’s maladaptive behaviors. In order to help the child, we need to know which thinking skills the child is lacking so that we can teach such skills to the child to be able to control his or her own behaviors.

Asking the child who lacks adaptive skills to explain why he or she is having such behaviors will not provide the answer the adult needs, because the child does not know why.

Considering the child to be a boy, and the adult being the mother of the boy: The boy cannot give the mother the explanation she needs because he is not aware of what skills he needs to have to be able to adapt to the demands placed upon him. He just knows that he cannot respond as he would like to what is asked of him, so he gets frustrated. And then the bad cycle starts: the child gets frustrated, the mother also gets frustrated and mad by the child’s response, the child perceives the anger in the adult, getting even more frustrated and angry. His thinking skills become progressively unavailable as he senses his mother’s anger which is also increasing progressively as the boy responds less and less appropriately to what is expected of him.