Monday, September 30, 2013

How a Problem Behavior Develops

It seems so simple. A single little action can turn into a behavior problem so quickly.  I received a phone call from a teacher.  Michelle is doing well in class.  She is very bright.  However, she is becoming more disorganized.  Might seem like an ADHD problem.  That was my first thought since her medications haven't been increased this year.  However, after talking further I am not so sure.

One day she spilled her overstuffed pencil bag right in the middle of instruction.  Many kids helped her and her teacher gave her attention for it.  I am sure that it was an accident.  Then it happened again.  I am sure that wasn't an accident.  And again.  Now most of her pencil bag contents are in her locker.

She also has problems finding her paperwork.  The teacher has been helping her to look for it.  I am sure that the first incident was a true need.  I am equally sure that the rest of the time it was not.  Once she received the one on one help she wanted more.  Slowly she has been developing more and more of a disorganization problem and it all started with that first incident.

I pointed out to the teacher Michelle's strong desire for attention and how some of her disorganization is attention seeking.  If not stopped at this point it will become a problem.  It is hard.  How do you give attention in these types of situations?  How does her teacher engage with her so as not to increase negative attention seeking behaviors? 

In this situation I asked her teacher to simply tell Michelle that she is sure she can find her papers on her own and leave it at that.  Meanwhile at home I cleaned out her folder so there are no extra papers to lose her assignments in.  I also told her that she will lose her pencil case if she continues to have a problem with dropping it.

Her teacher is more aware of Michelle's behaviors and will have to monitor it in the classroom.  Sadly she will have to be on guard to make sure that her responses don't increase unwanted behaviors because it happens so quickly.

Anyone else have a child who does this?  How have you dealt with it?


  1. Not exactly like that but suddenly not being able to do things for himself or remember where things go. Not sure if it's attention seeking or laziness. When I asked him to take over drying and putting away dishes after Adam left and we shifted jobs, he didn't know where anything went. Instead of rotating the job, he got to do it for a week so he'd remember where everything went.

  2. Jackson is having a terrible organization problem this year, when he never has before. I have no clue why...I'm trying to get to the bottom of it. We're facing different problems with Meghan right now. Hers may be similar to what Michelle is dealing with. She likes the attention she gets from low grades...not good.