Assumption 2: Most children will behave in a way that is consistent with their best interest as defined by them, not by us.
As parents we know what is in our child’s best interest. We’ve already been kids, we’re adults now, we’ve got that figured out. When we think about what is in their best interest, it’s usually something like: graduate high school, go to college, become a doctor, cure cancer. As such, we think of our children’s best interests in terms of a future that we measure in months and years. It’s important that we understand that a child sees their best interests in a future that is measured more in minutes and hours. They live in the now.
A child typically sees their best interest as maintaining access to privilege. What are privileges? A phone, computer, tablet, video game console, car, and / or freedom. It’s important that we keep this in mind, as well as the time frame in which they operate. This is especially important when it comes time to developing effective consequence. More on that later.
Assumption 3: Most children have the capacity to manage their own behavior, they simply need a reason to use that capacity.
Coupling this to be “Best Interest” assumption, once you find the things that motivate your child(ren) you will likely find that they have access to the ability to manage their own behavior in some very useful ways. Creating the reason for them to do that is the trick to getting them to use a capacity that is innate to most children.
The nature of children is that, if left unchecked, their behavior expands. They are constantly seeking to push boundaries and challenge limits. Ironically, it is when they attain these goals that they are the least happy and feel the least safe. However, if you give them a reason (in the form of effective consequence) to contain themselves, most kids are actually able to do just that: contain themselves. Additionally, this is where children develop age appropriate independence, a building block of authentic self-esteem. Within this paradigm children will often use their own capacity to manage their behavior because it is in their best interest (as defined by them) to do so.