All behaviour serves a purpose
And it’s controlled by your own little body guard!
A young girl was bought to me because she had been expelled from school. Well schools to be precise, because of unruly behaviour and stealing from home – her foster home.
She would do anything to gain attention that usually resulted in detention.
Various therapists had tried to help her recognise her behaviour was not acceptable but to no avail.
It seems – “stop it” was just not registering with her.
She did not want to talk to me, another therapist, and so I didn’t try to engage her. I just requested that as she was here and I appreciated she did not want to be, that she should amuse herself for the hour while I got on with some work.
I then turned my back on her and started to talk to my toy doll, Ollie.
“Well Ollie, I don’t believe that you like getting into so much trouble, so I guess your little body guard super power has a good reason for it. Can I talk to him please?”
I then proceeded to pull out the little bodyguard superpower from Ollie and with it gently cupped in my hand I began talking to it.
“Now little chap, this is interesting because the little girl sat behind me is with a foster family too so you two have a lot in common.” (I caught the little girl out of the corner of my eye- she was watching me)
“Ok little bodyguard. Now either you hate school and hate your foster family…… but no, that can’t be it, because you’re the bodyguard and you’re about protection, so let me see, how is this behaviour helping you protect Ollie?”
I then suggested some things e.g.
“Do you steal to make people hate you…. now that can’t be it because you then do all you can for their attention….”
“Do you misbehave so people won’t like you…..? Now that can’t be it because you want their attention…”
“Ok little chap, you got me, I think I might finally have been beaten – I admit – I don’t know why you’re doing these things.”
I looked crest fallen and sat very quiet with a very sad look on my face. After a few minutes the little girl said very quietly “maybe it’s not because he wants attention.”
Without turning around I said, “Really – you think – no – I don’t understand that… it has to be about getting attention.”
The little girl said, “Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to be hungry.”
I still did not turn round but stayed focussed on Ollie, “no I don’t think that’s it – his foster family are lovely and take care of him so that can’t be it.”
The little girl said, “Maybe he is afraid that they might not feed him or his little sister and….”
At that point I turned around, the little girl was in tears….
Basically, she and her sister were in foster care because of an abusive family life, part of which was being locked in their room with no food for – well I don’t know how long. If she clowned around and made her parents and their friends laugh she got “thrown” food! So she had learnt that if she acted up and did what the kids at school dared her to do they would give her sweets, she stole food from home and was hiding it and money in her room – just in case.
All behaviour serves a purpose………..
Working with her lovely foster mum we got her a box and filed it with food, that was her emergency box for her and her little sister. Then we started working on getting her through the abuse her and her sister had suffered.
There are no bad kids, all behaviour serves a purpose and in kids it’s usually drills down to their need of security and feeling safe. I am pleased to report she has settled down and better still it looks like her foster family may well become her forever home.
* Disclaimer: results may vary from person to person