top of page

Understanding Behavior through the Brain-Based Lens

Understanding Behavior through the Brain-Based Lens

My name is Penny Williams, and I'm a parenting coach for neurodiverse families like yours. I want to talk to you about using a brain-based lens to reframe behavior.

We have a very traditional way of looking at behavior and parenting behavior. It's

what I call Crime and Punishment. And it is not the best way to parent and address challenging behavior.

There is a better way, and it is totally backed by neuroscience. The first step is to reframe the behavior in your mind. So you need to shift your mindset away from "My child did this thing wrong and so I have to punish them to fix it." And you're going to shift that to "Wow, I wonder what is causing my child to have this behavior? Let me reframe, let me decode. Let me dig deeper to figure out what's going on. Because then I can help them when I know what's going on, I can address that, that root of the behavior."

So let's talk a little bit about the difference between a behavior-based lens and a brain-based lens.

Behavior-based Lens

In a behavior based lens, we are looking at that surface behavior, that surface layer, and we are judging it. If I see my kid yelling, being rude, defiant, disrespectful, not listening.

In a behavior-based lens. I'm thinking, wow, my kid is a bad person. Or my kid is a disrespectful person. My kid is trying to give me a hard time, right? And that doesn't help. Just saying that your kid is disrespectful. It doesn't help. What do you do with that? You instinctually punish, but punishment isn't going to change that, because we haven't looked at why it is actually happening.

Brain-based Lens

If I'm using my brain-based lens, now I am filtering those same surface behaviors, yelling, not listening, talking back being disrespectful, being oppositional not following directions.

When I put that through my brain-based lens, I am seeing a kid who's having a hard time. Maybe they didn't get enough rest. Maybe they have poor frustration, tolerance. Maybe they have lagging skills with executive functioning, maybe they are behind with social and emotional skills.

These things give us information. Now we understand what is actually happening that is driving that behavior.


Featured video guide

Watch the full video guide in the Tracto app

Our video guides are created by experts in the field of neurodiversity and include parent-led strategies that improve communication skills, coping skills, independence, challenging behaviors, and many more.

Understanding Behavior through the Brain-Based Lens

How to use Tracto

How does Tracto help me with this?

Note in your Tracto journal your child's behaviors, triggers and document any changes over time. This can help parents identify patterns, understand causes and effects, and monitor progress.


Tracto app

Get the FREE Tracto app to access our expert-designed tools such as tracking, journaling, routine reminders, and more video guides.

App store logo
Google Play logo


bottom of page