Behavior is lawful, I learned this phrase when I became an instructor for Positive Behavior Support. It has been a long time since I have taught the class, however this phrase always stays with me. In short it means no behavior is ‘out of the blue,’ as we sometimes describe actions of others. Any action an individual takes is a response to something whether we are aware of it or not, the trigger could be anything in the environment noticed by our senses, a reaction to another person’s behavior or behavior can stem from a thought.
There have been many occurrences, since by daughter began speaking regularly, where I would have been caught off guard by her simple communication. Sometimes it’s while I am driving the car with her behind me in the car seat sitting peacefully observing the scenes passing outside her window when I hear the two words in her sweet high-pitched voice, “Thank you,” she says. She is very polite expressing thanks to family, friends and strangers on a regular basis; it’s the times when there is no apparent prompt for the comment I am boggled by. The comment appears to come out of the blue, except I know behavior is lawful and it must have a purpose.
I’m so curious at the thoughts in her two-year-old mind which evoked this comment. She didn’t get anything, no compliment received or favor helped. Is she thanking me for the ride, praising me for being a safe driver? Is she as appreciative to get out of the house as I am? Was she just trying to start a conversation to break the silence and these are the words others respond to? And then my mind takes me to wondering if it’s simply a thank you for being, kids are present in a way we lose as life gets more complicated. They are not congested with the volume of thoughts, opinions, data and stresses we have in our adult minds.
Without having the words to provide an explanation, I am left to imagine. Her enduring two-word expression, when the environment is otherwise silent, has developed meaning for me even when I don’t know what it means from her. It’s a reminder to focus on the present, no moment is ordinary, I need to appreciate it all.