Beyond Behaviour - 3 D’s of Disobedience
Module one : Lesson four
What do we know about disobedience? Children engage in behaviors for a reason. All decisions have a function and a purpose. There are three typical reasons a child will disengage and stop listening. In this module we explore those three key reasons in order to fully understand how we can support them better.
When children refuse to listen, it can be very difficult for us. I think the key here is to understand why children struggle with cooperation, why anyone might struggle with cooperation. I've coined this as the three Ds of disobedience. Once we understand these three core things, these three core reasons that someone might stop listening to us, it really helps us understand what we can shift, what we can change, in order to boost that cooperation again.
The first D is disconnection. As soon as you and someone else are no longer on the same page then that cooperation is automatically going to start to drop. There's a physiological response in the brain to disconnect from someone as soon as we're not on the same page or we're not seeing things eye to eye. This might be you telling your child no when they really want something. Or telling them to do something while they're engaged in a highly preferred activity.
As soon as they realize, "Hang on, this isn't going the way I expected it to. We're clearly not on the same page right now." Disconnection is going to follow. This can also come from maybe just not spending enough floor time with your child. That one-on-one quality time is an essential ingredient in your relationship and in their overall cooperation with you. Disconnection is a big one to keep in mind.
The second D of disobedience is disempowerment. Disempowerment kicks in as soon as a child feels like they don't have a choice. They don't have a say. They're not part of the conversation and their feelings are no longer relevant. This can lead to hopelessness, helplessness, or feeling useless. As soon as children experience any of those feelings then they are going to become disempowered. And again, there's going to be that physiological response in the brain to stop listening altogether.
The third D of disobedience is discouragement. Now, this one is a little bit harder to define. Sometimes it shows up after your child comes home from school and they're simply spent from the day. You also might see this if you have unrealistic expectations of your child. Maybe you're giving them an instruction that they just simply cannot cope with. Maybe they can't understand because their emotions are heightened. Either way, they feel discouraged, and this is going to lead to more disobedience and more un-cooperation.
Those are the three Ds of disobedience. Now, once we understand how disconnection, disempowerment, and discouragement can show up in our child's behavior then we can start to create avenues in order to increase those three key areas through building opportunities for connection, creating moments of empowerment as often as possible, and of course, encouraging by simplifying the day and keeping these simple. And bearing in mind your child's basic needs before placing all of those demands and all of those instructions that sometimes, we just don't become mindful anymore. Sometimes they just come out and we're not really considering what our child's needs are in the moment. Those are the three Ds of disobedience.