Quote of The Day


Maladaptive - Incomplete, inadequate, or faulty adaptation; unsuitably adapted or adapting poorly


I had a colleague once who brought to my attention that our supervisees seemed to love to throw around the word "maladaptive" in their reports. It had almost become like a buzzword for saying "inappropriate". Like, "maladaptive tantrum behavior" or "maladaptive social functioning". My colleague's response to this was genius, IMO, and changed the way I view this word: Maladaptive to who?? 
As in, the client's tantrums are maladaptive...to who? The client's toy throwing is maladaptive...to who??? Certainly not the client.

See, the word maladaptive implies that there is something defective, or wrong, about the behavior. However, to the person engaging in the behavior it is very much serving a purpose and meeting a need.

So if I am 4- year- old little Tara and I cannot readily communicate, I now have to come up with some other way to get what I want. Oh I know, how about screaming? If screaming leads to adult attention, followed by accessing things I want, then how exactly is my screaming maladaptive?

Before throwing around buzz words, or using overly technical language to sound impressive, try thinking through what you really mean to say when describing behavior.

The irony is I think it's extremely "adaptive" to come up with a method to be understood. ;-)
Kids are so much smarter than we give them credit for, whether or not we like what they choose to do.

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