Parenting Tool

Want to know what motivates your child?  

Children, like adults, behave in certain ways to get a particular result and express a specific need. Although there are many different behaviors we display, most often we are looking for verbal and/or nonverbal messages that we matter (attention) to the world around us and that we can influence (power) that world.


The Four Basic Goals of Misbehavior



Child's Faulty 


Example Parent's Response

Child's Response to Parent

Attention "I belong only when I am being notice"

Clowning, minor mischief

Passive: Forgetting, neglecting chores

Annoyed Child temporarily stops behavior. Later repeats behavior or does something else to attract attention.
Power "I belong only when I am in control or proving no one can control me."

Active: Aggressiveness, defiance, disobedience, hostility



Passive: Stubbornness, resistance

Angry, provoked





Fight power with power or give in

When parent fights back, child intensifies or submits with "defiant compliance."


When parent gives in, child stops.

Revenge "I do not feel love or lovable so I hurt others because I hurt."

Active: Hurtfulness, rudeness, violence, destructiveness

Passive:    Staring hurtfully at others

Deeply hurt





Seeks further revenge by intensifying attack or choosing another "weapon"

Display of


"I am helpless and incapable, so I convince others not to expect anything from me."

Passive only: Quitting easily, avoid trying Despairing, hopeless, discouraged Validated feelings on inadequacy



The Two Basic Goals of Positive Behavior


Goals Child's Belief Child's Behavior

How Parent's Encourage Positive Goals




"I belong and get acceptance by contributing to the family."





Share individual and family goals in family meeting.

Recognize and let child know you appreciate assistance and cooperation




"I am able to make my own decisions and be responsible for my behavior."

Makes own decisions

Works without being prodded

Is resourceful

Encourage decision making.

Express confidence.


Most child and adolescent (and adult) misbehavior can be corrected when those two needs are met. However, most of us need some help learning how to effectively foster the needs of attention and power.  Let Duggan Therapy LLC help you learn easy ways to correct behavior problems in your home.


Father's of daughters, check out Hero&Her to "Strengthen Your Father Daugter Bond"