Goal of Behavior: PROTECTION | by Dr. Popkin

To survive and thrive we must be able to protect ourselves, our families, and the society in which we live. The human instinct to repel attacks—whether physical or psychological—has led us to develop complex systems of justice and defense. Children will also look for ways to protect themselves from physical harm or from threats to their self-esteem. But because they lack a mature understanding of justice and the interconnectedness of people, they often strike out in ways that are unproductive and even harmful. Children will sometimes seek revenge on peers, parents, or other adults for a real or perceived injustice against them. This is a negative approach to help them achieve the goal of protection. If a child is escalating the fight, they may be seeking revenge. Keep in mind that kids who seek revenge are usually hurting, so they need a lot of love and encouragement to go with appropriate discipline. Parents and teachers can help children learn responsible methods of protection while providing a safe environment in which they can develop. Starting from a place of love is always the best approach.

To learn more about the goals of behavior, check out any of our core curriculums.


Active Parenting Publishers founder and president Michael H. Popkin, Ph.D. has been providing research-based education programs with an emphasis on nonviolent discipline, mutual respect, and open communication for over 35 years. He is widely known for his expertise in the field of parent education and has appeared on over 100 TV programs, including CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show.