Sometimes I feel sorry for my wife. When I am hungry I am grumpy. I am a modern day Jekyll and Hyde character.

All is well when my belly is full. I can hoover up an ungodly amount of food in a short space of time.

Joe is equally adept at ‘sprint eating’…sometimes.

Joe will devour anything edible when he is in the mood.

However he is not always aware of his hunger. Actually that is a lie, he is very rarely aware of his hunger pains and this is where we differ. 

My brain has learnt that sometimes grumpy equals hungry. Hungry equals a food search.

To compare Oliver, Joe and I is interesting as there are similarities. 

Oliver- hungry, cries, James checks nappy then passes to wife.
James- hungry, cri…gets grumpy, walks to fridge and finds something to eat.
Joe- hungry, cries and moans, could be angry or agitated, eventually gets something to eat.

There are similarities but differences. 

I think of it using a common approach in special education. Antecedent, behaviour and consequence.

The antecedent is what is happening before the behaviour. In all our cases it is hunger. The behaviour is how we express this feeling. In all three of us we show our displeasure through our behaviour. The consequence for me is my fridge gets raided. The consequence for Oliver is we attempt to appease him until he is fed. For Joe the consequence is that his family attempt to soothe him until he eats something.

However on the flip side this way of viewing behaviour can be used to encourage positive behaviour.

Earlier Joe heard Oliver make a noise when he was on the phone to me. Joe said “Hello Oliver how are you?”. The consequence was that Joe was showered with praise for being kind and thoughtful.

When addressing negative behaviour, (I utterly detest the word ‘naughty’) if the consequence does not address the reason for the behaviour then a perpetual cycle of behaviour, consequence, behaviour consequence will ensue.

Perhaps a way to view this is when Joe repeatedly asks where somebody is after he has been told they are coming round. 

When this happens Joe becomes anxious. Therefore he looks out of any window, asks where that person is and asks if I can phone them. The consequence is that Joe and I sit down and discuss that the person will arrive but they are driving over. Granted this doesn’t always work but it is significantly more effective than ‘punishing’ (another word I detest) Joe for constantly asking and not getting the message. 

I appreciate this is my interpretation. If somebody wants to continually shout at a child without addressing the reason for the behaviour, in the belief that this will work then they are welcome to do so.

I just remember that there is more than one way to skin a cat…(I don’t like that phrase either).


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