I recently attended a 5-day training on School Climate at ACES in Hamden, Connecticut. What a great week!
I learned something which really hit home as a mother, a teacher, a grandmother and a Christian. It’s called the Cycle of Conflict, and it explains why many kids get stuck in a pattern of inappropriate behaviors.
The Cycle of Conflict:
- The Child experiences some kind of stress (external or internal), which causes fears.
- The fears of the Child cause the Child to develop irrational thoughts.
- The irrational thoughts of the Child cause the child to express inappropriate behaviors.
- The inappropriate behaviors of the Child incite the Adult.
- The Adult then mirrors the inappropriate behavior of the Child.
- The behaviors of the Child escalate.
- The Adult issues a consequence for the behaviors (which the Adult fueled).
- The irrational thoughts and fears of the Child are confirmed — a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- See Step 3, and continue.
- A new baby is born a a child’s house — the Stressor. The stress of having life disrupted by a new addition to the family creates the worry that the child will not get attention by the parents — the Fear.
- The fear of losing the parents’ attention causes the child to feel that the new baby is replacing the child in the parents’ hearts — the Irrational Thought.
- The irrational thought that he has lost his parents’ affection causes the child to disrupt class with outbursts, to get the teacher’s attention (resulting in a call home)– the Inappropriate Behaviors.
- The disruptive behaviors of the child, then getting in trouble in school, irritate his parents – the Adult Becomes Incited.
- The parents get mad at the child and yell at him for getting in trouble at school – the Mirror.
- The child yells back, “You don’t love me anymore! All you care about is that stupid baby!” – the Escalation.
- The parents send the child to his room — the Consequence.
- Being sent from the parents’ presence reinforces the irrational fear of losing his parents’ affection — the Self-fulfilling Prophecy.
It’s All About the Adults:
The moral of the story is this: no matter how outrageous the child’s behavior, the bottom line is that it’s the adult’s response to the behavior that determines the future likelihood of the behavior continuing or decreasing.
- Do Your Responses Make Your Child’s Problem Better or (Gulp!) Worse? (psychologytoday.com)
- (How Not) To Train Up a Child (challies.com)
- How To Teach Your Child Good Manners (housewifesutopia.com)
- Parent-offspring Conflict: Time to Listen to the Argument (psychologytoday.com)
- Child’s psychological mistreatment may be subtle but harmful: study – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
- Five Signs of Parental Alientation (sincemydivorce.com)
- Penn State University: Lessons Learned (runningfromhellwithel.com)