Understanding what children want can bring about a major shift in your thinking. If you embrace this concept, I predict your perceptions will change for the better, which then will impact your child.

So, what is your child’s primary motivation?

At the root of most of their challenging behavior, children are pleasure seekers.  Put simply, they want what they want, when they want it.

This isn’t fundamentally different from what adults want. We’re all pleasure seekers at heart. But the big difference between adults and children is that adults have learned to delay gratification and to put aside pleasure, at least theoretically.

Often parents will seek a range of psychological explanations for a child’s behavior.

While there certainly may be certain psychological and/or neurological bases for a child’s behavior, often there are simpler explanations.

Children are pleasure seekers and will do what they can to obtain it.

Yesterday, for example, in a local library there was a mother and her two small children standing in front of a snack machine.

The little girl, perhaps four-years-old, was having a major meltdown.

Why?  The mother wasn’t giving her what she immediately demanded.  Banging on the snack machine left the mother frazzled, as she desperately tried to appease her daughter, but not to her daughter’s satisfaction.

For an experiment, try seeing the behavior through the pleasure-seeking lens and see what happens (to you).

I predict that your behavior will change!

(Adapted from “Beyond the Power Struggle:  A Guide for Parents of Challenging Kids,” Richard Selznick, Ph.D. 2023)