Behaviorist approach to parenting vs. developmentalist approach –

Behaviorist approach to parenting vs. developmentalist approach

Behaviorist approach to parenting vs. developmentalist approach:

A behaviorist looks at the behavior the child is displaying and asks, how can I change it? This is the approach of many parenting books and how-to's; they employ strategies like sleep training, time outs, reward charts, consequences, loss of privileges, teaching a lesson, etc. in an attempt to mold their child's behaviour.

A developmental approach to parenting asks, WHY is my child displaying this behavior? What is the NEED behind it? Are my expectations developmentally appropriate for my child? How can I SUPPORT him or her through this?


Developmentalists rarely, if ever, need to rely on strategies. Instead, they put the relationship with the child at the forefront and go from there. This isn't "permissive" parenting-- there are clear boundaries and limits, and when those limits are crossed (when, not if, cause #toddlers), they continue to engage in a calm and respectful way with their children. This might mean evaluating if a boundary needs to be changed. It might mean evaluating if some part of the relationship needs to be strenthened. And if it is neither of those things, it means staying open, calm and supportive to their child's "big emotions" in response to that boundary.

Consequences and strategies are a band-aid solution that leaves the root of the problem unaddressed. A simple shift in perspective from 'how can I control this?' to 'where did it come from?' can often provide us with the best insight on how to move forward 💕


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