At Camp Fire, it isn’t only our youth who take time to reflect and strengthen their social emotional skills, our leaders and staff do too. Here is a personal account from one of our Early Childhood Education professionals.

I was teaching, and I had a child that acted out often. I found myself struggling with how to support this child and help her grow.

Discussing this with my mentor, my mentor said, “All behavior has a purpose.”

What is this child trying to communicate with you? What is the need that is not being met?

This statement and the questions that followed helped to change the way I looked at behavior. It helped me become a more effective and empathetic teacher. It gave me the opportunity to build and maintain stronger relationships with all my students because I stopped looking at behavior as being “bad” or “good” and began looking for the purpose.

Much of the time, behaviors would resolve because I could identify the purpose and then show the child a new way to ask for what they needed.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times it is difficult to determine the purpose of the behavior and it takes time, trial and error and professional support to help a child who is demonstrating behaviors that disrupt the class and are hurtful to themselves and/or others.

Changing my mindset and recognizing that behavior has purpose helped me to have more empathy. In turn, it gave me the ability to problem solve and keep working to find what works.

Next time you see a behavior you “don’t like” or is causing upset, I encourage you to stop and ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this behavior?”