Many parents don’t realize that children are constantly making decisions on how to achieve “belonging and significance”. This quest for belonging and significance is one of the key concepts of Positive Discipline. When children feel discouraged they will often turn to negative ways which they perceive will bring them belonging and significance. Rudolf Dreikurs discovered four inappropriate or mistaken goals that children adopt when they feel discouragement. They are called mistaken goals because they are based on mistaken beliefs about how to achieve belonging and significance.
Remembering that a “misbehaving child is a discouraged child” is key! This has proven itself to me over and over as a parent and as I’ve dealt with a wide variety of behaviour challenges in the context of my teaching career.
The Four Mistaken Beliefs and Mistaken Goals of Behaviour are:
1. Undue Attention: The mistaken belief: “I belong only when I have your attention.”
2. Misguided Power: The mistaken belief: “I belong only when I’m the boss (or at least when I don’t let you boss me).”
3. Revenge: The mistaken belief: “I don’t belong, but at least I can hurt back.”
4. Assumed Inadequacy: The mistaken belief: “It is impossible to belong. I give up.”
Children aren’t consciously aware of their mistaken belief. If you ask them why they misbehaved, they will likely tell you they don’t know or give some other excuse.
In the Positive Discipline books and in my workshops, the Mistaken Goals are discussed in detail. Parents and teachers are also provided with many encouraging Positive Discipline tools that address each of the mistaken goals.
Keeping you posted,