I believe a critical step in dealing with inappropriate behaviors is determining which are the result of poor choices and which are more likely poor habits.
With the human brain wired for survival, only able to consciously attend to one thing at a time, it often moves behaviors into an ‘autopilot’ category in order to store energy and focus attention on the most critical issue at hand. So, when behaviors are repeated, the natural inclination is for them to turn into ingrained patterns, or habits.
Thinking of the inappropriate behaviors some children exhibit repeatedly, I wonder how many of these fall into this habit category. I’m fairly convinced the more frequent the behavior, the more often this is probably the case, which of course, makes changing this behavior a more difficult task.
I don’t excuse inappropriate behavior, and I know even when habits are involved, people make poor choices. I also choose to believe, however, we do the best we are able, given our developmental and skill levels. So, when faced with the task of changing the ingrained behavior patterns of a person with whom you work, think about the last time you tried to break a bad habit. Hopefully, this simple exercise will help you, like me, be infinitely more patient with that person and the whole process of behavioral change.