Every morning, after he wakes up, my dog goes and stands by the back door. It’s his time to go out and do his business.
If I don’t get there soon enough, he starts to paw at the door.
If I STILL don’t open the door, he starts barking. Insistently. Persistently.
Until I open the door and let him out.
Remind you of anything??
A fussy baby who cries until you pick them?
A Late Talking toddler who throws their food on the floor until you take them out of the chair?
A nonspeaking autistic 9 year old who stomps their foot and huffs and puffs until you finally get the message?
A teenager with ADHD who flies off the handle after an exhausting day at school?
Notice, in all of these scenarios, no words are being spoken. But LOTS of meaning is being conveyed.
The fact is: All behavior is communication.
In the case of my dog, I don’t expect him to speak (although there are ‘talking’ dogs on IG! Check ‘em out! They’re so cool!). I don’t expect him to speak, but I do read his signals and respond to his behavioral cues because I understand that he is “telling” me something.
I also don’t think to myself, “he’s just barking and pawing at the door to annoy me”. I try to figure out what he intends and what he needs.
In the case of Humans, we do expect – after a certain age – that they will speak, but that DOES NOT MEAN we should stop reading their nonverbal signals.
Especially in the case of Orchid Kids.
Nonverbal communication (i.e., Behavior) gives us WAY MORE information than words do.
You know when your teen’s body is all curled in on itself, but when you ask about their day, they say it was “good” ? You know it wasn’t good. Why is that?
You know when you ask your toddler what’s wrong and they say “I hate you, Mommy!” while wanting to be physically connected to you with full body contact? Why is that?
Imagine a nonspeaking child trying to accomplish a task. They are deep in it; it’s hard for them but they’re persisting. We try to help; they get mad. Why is that?
The words (if there are any) are saying one thing, but the rest of the person is saying something completely different.
Behavior doesn’t lie.
But we get out of practice with noticing behavior as kids get older. Especially if they start talking.
We get used to thinking that all the relevant information should be coming out of people’s mouths.
But it just doesn’t.
And in the case of Orchid Kids, it’s especially true that the behavior and the words might not line up as frequently as we expect.
The reason for that is a complex mix of whatever flavor of Orchid you’re raising, and it’s worth figuring out what elements are at play.
But you can make a shift right now: by paying attention to behavior and remembering that it always serves a function.