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Book after book and Ted Talk after Ted Talk has been shared about why our kids do what they do.

  • Why they don’t behave.
  • Why they rebel.
  • Why they act out.
  • Why they don’t do what they’re told.

And what we, as parents, should be doing about it.

Recently, I tend to see two extremes from parenting and behavior experts.

  • Either behavior is all about unmet needs or lagging skills, so it’s entirely outside of our children’s control…
  • Or behavior is all about choices, and we should focus on teaching our children to make better choices in order for them to have better behavior.

And, like in most things, I tend to be hanging out in the middle of those two extremes, somewhere in that grey area saying “can’t those both be a tiny bit true?”

So today I’m pulling back the curtain and sharing four reasons that your Autistic child isn’t following boundaries—I call them the 4C’s of behavior.

Young girl looks angry and crosses her arms. Text reads: "Why Doesn't Your Autistic Child Follow Boundaries 4 C's of Behavior"

(Pssst: If you’re ready to create a balanced family that accommodates each other, check out the Balance Retreat here!)

4 Reasons Your Autistic Child Doesn’t Follow Boundaries

If we haven’t met yet, hey friend, I’m Kaylene!

I’m an Autistic advocate and parent coach, and I empower parents of neurodivergent kids to develop the unique flavor of parenting strategies that actually work for your neurodivergent child, your values, and your entire neurofamily.

If you want to dive even deeper into setting and sticking to boundaries that actually work, click here and watch my free masterclass: 5 Shifts to Effective Boundaries for Autistic Kids!

#1 Comprehension

Comprehension is all about whether or not your child fully comprehends and understands the boundary in question.

Quite often our kids aren’t following boundaries simply because they don’t actually know that they exist in the first place.

And I want to be clear… This isn’t just about whether or not your child “knows better”.

Comprehension is about your child truly understanding

  • What the exact boundary is
  • Why that boundary exists (and why it matters to them)
  • What following the boundary looks like
  • What not following the boundary looks like

#2 Capability

Capability is all about your child’s current capability to meet the boundary in their typical environment.

You’ll want to think about their your child’s development, skills, and abilities.

When you’re addressing capability, you want to take a look at:

  • Executive functioning
  • Lagging skills
  • Frustration tolerance
  • Communication abilities
  • Emotional regulation skills

And seriously, so many more things that I could write an entire book on. This is where alllll the skill-building comes into play. :)

(psst: I talk about how to create specific capacity plans for boundaries in the free masterclass: 5 Shifts to Effective Boundaries for Neurodivergent Kids! You can watch it instantly for FREE by clicking here!)

4C's of Behavior: Comprehension Does your child actually comprehend the boundary? Capability Is your child capable of following the boundary? Capacity Does your child have the capacity to follow the boundary in this moment? Choice Is your child actively choosing to ignore or not follow the boundary?

#3 Capacity

Now we’re getting to the fun part!

Capacity is all about your child’s current capacity for following the boundary in this exact moment.

See, how many times have we gotten so frustrated with our kids for refusing to do something that we KNOW they can do?

“I know they CAN do this… They did it just fine yesterday!”

Capacity is exactly what explains why this happens.

You can be capable of something, but not have the capacity to do it in a particular moment for a ton of different reasons like if you:

  • Are extra tired because you didn’t sleep well
  • Have a headache that won’t go away
  • Haven’t eaten and you’re feeling hungry
  • Are distracted by the super bright lights
  • Had a fight with your best friend and are feeling sad

Or for another example…

Are you capable of dealing with your child’s behavior without yelling? Probably.

But do you still sometimes yell? Also probably. This is because sometimes you don’t have the *capacity* to stay calm in that exact moment.

#4 Choice

Finally, and I do mean finally my friends, we have choice.

And choice is when our kids fully comprehend a boundary, they are capable of meeting the boundary, they have full capacity to meet the boundary, and they actively choose to not meet the boundary anyway.

I cannot understate how rare it is that behavior gets down to this level, but I think we do a disservice when we pretend that it never happens.

Sometimes kids have everything that they need to make the right choice, but they don’t follow the boundary anyway.

But we can’t jump to choice until we’ve ruled out all other reasons for our kids not following a boundary.

These reasons—the 4C’s of Behavior—have to go in order, or they’re absolutely pointless.

So now you know why your Autistic child isn’t following boundaries, but you might still have a few questions like:

  • Now I know why they aren’t following the boundaries, but what do I actually do about it?
  • I’ve struggled with boundaries in the past because I can never stay consistent… Am I just doomed? 
  • Everyone says we should compromise and plan with our kids… But what do we do when their only “compromise” is doing 100% what they want to do?
  • How do I stick to boundaries when I’m the one who ends up punished by my kids outbursts and meltdowns?
  • How do I set and enforce boundaries without totally ignoring their needs? I don’t want to set expectations that they aren’t able to meet…

Questions like these are exactly why I created the Balance Retreat Workshop Bundle that will help you create more balance in your family (and have a family that actually accommodates each other!)!

Here are just a few of the aha-moments and lightbulb dings you’ll gain from the workshops…

  • The 3 basic boundaries to add when you feel like your Autistic child runs your entire household
  • How to know exactly when to hold firm to a boundary and when to be flexible, AND feel good about your decision so you can let go of the constant second-guessing
  • The 4C’s of behavior so that you can discover exactly why your child is struggling to meet an expectation or follow a boundary every single time
  • My 3-Step Process for handling whatever behavior your child throws at you without resorting to ignoring, bribing, or punishing.
  • The truth about consequences and how to make sure your child is actually learning that their behavior isn’t okay (and that in the “real world” there are consequences for their actions)
  • The 3 biggest mistakes that parents make on their journey to becoming truly balanced, and how to avoid each one

Click here to get the Balance Retreat Workshop Bundle now!

Image of what is included in the Balance Retreat Workshop Bundles