Father and son together in vineyard

Positive Assumptions Encourage Positive Emotions

In this article: the power of positive assumed intent in building mutual trust and respect.

Transition Coach, Shari Murray and Dr. Tim Thayne recently recorded a podcast discussing the Power of Positive Assumed Intent. They felt this was an important topic because we are all guilty at one time or another of assuming the intent of others actions. As a parent it’s common to ascribe negative intent to your child’s behavior when they act a certain way. If you can shift your mindset from assuming negative intent to positive, your relationship with your child can grow in ways you never thought possible.

This way of thinking is especially prevalent in families with children who struggle with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and anxiety. For example, children who are on the spectrum or who have anxiety often have difficulty with change and like to stick to a routine. When changes do occur, they can fall into what looks like compulsive, repetitive, self-absorbed, or even oppositional behaviors—when in reality, they’re having a hard time deviating from their routine.

Dig Deeper

From a parent’s perspective, it’s easy to see some behaviors as oppositional and negative. We assume that the child is selfish, wants things to go their own way, and that they are making our life miserable on purpose. But what we don’t realize is that there is usually something deeper going on and it’s something we can absolutely change.

Shari pointed out: “It’s important to understand why we ascribe the negative intent so quickly. A simple reason for this is that it does look oppositional and purposeful on the surface and it’s easier to believe that’s the case. Once you know if your child is on the spectrum or has anxiety, it’s important to realize that these diagnoses are really about information-processing problems. They have a difficult time processing information from multiple places at once or that comes in too quickly, and this slower processing can lead to missed information.”

Like a Freeway Under Construction

Shari explained: “If multiple lanes are shut down and there’s a flood of cars coming, only a few cars are getting through at once as opposed to when all of the lanes are open. It’s slow and can be messy, and this is how many children who have these diagnoses process information and experience the world. This triggers a nervous system response and can create uncertainty within them, leading to behaviors that seem problematic.” This analogy about a freeway under construction is a great visual for parents to remember.

Shari relayed an experience about a teen she worked with who was on the spectrum. The teen had a test coming up and was going to make some flashcards, and as he was writing, his parents noticed that he was writing everything down in paragraphs. His mom noted that he wasn’t doing it the right way, and to try something different. Since he had done this on a previous exam and it went well, he didn’t want to change. It turned into a struggle of who knows more, and then a situation like that became a traffic jam. To the parent, it might seem like the child was just being defiant and stubborn—but it really had nothing to do with her.

Making the Correct Assumption

It is important to make the correct assumption, says Shari. “One question a parent might have is whether it’s ever right to assume problematic behavior. It’s almost always safe to make the assumption that the child’s intention is just to find some predictability because they need to make sense of their world. When we approach our kids assuming that their intention is pure, we interact with them in a much healthier and more productive way.”

She continues, “The three basic things to know when it comes to assumed intent are:

First, acknowledge it and validate that it’s about creating predictability and security.

Second, it’s important to not try to convince the child that there’s nothing to be anxious about. You have to respect that it’s very real for them.

And third, have patience and compassion.”

Doing these things will help build mutual trust and respect, resulting in a healthier relationship.

To hear more about this topic, listen to the Not by Chance Podcast episode “Assumed Intent” with Dr. Tim Thayne and Homeward Bound Coach Shari Murray found on Apple Podcast or Spotify.

In this article

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Dr. Tim Thayne Presents:

How Parents Can Put A Stop To Their Teen's Self Destructive Behaviors WITHOUT Conflict Or Walking On Eggshells

Mike Christian

Back-End Developer & DevOps​

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what . . .” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team.

Rafael Pampoch

Web Developer

Rafael has his degree in Marketing and Advertising and years of experience with our dev team. As a teen he could trust that “The most important thing in life is love, and the most valuable things are our family and friends.” When he isn’t working on making the website and mobile versions of Trustyy seamless and functional, he unwinds by exploring nature. His favorite activities are climbing mountains, camping, going to the beach, swimming, playing the harmonica and always learning new things.

Afton Wilde


Afton’s experience is in marketing and bookkeeping.  As a teen she could trust that with her parents “Feeding the horses and milking the cow each day before school–not after–was a must.”  When she isn’t busy with keeping Trustyy’s lights on, you’ll usually find her baking up a new treat or working on a sewing project.

Nicoli Cristini

Marketing Assistant

Nicoli has a degree in Multimedia Production.  She has worked with our team of developers for three years.  She learned to trust her own parents when they taught her “Things won’t come easy and that working hard will bring me great blessings!”  When she isn’t putting together beautiful marketing pieces for the Trustyy App she likes to take pictures, play the guitar, piano, and drums, and meet up with her family to laugh over the silly things they did as kids.

Adriano Rodrigues

Mobile Developer

Adriano is certified in Analysis and Systems Development.  In his family he could trust the fact that “One difficult experience teaches me that failure is not the end, but rather an opportunity for growth and learning.”  When he is away from his work in making sure the Trustyy App buttons and bells and whistles are working properly, he likes to go to the gym, to the beach to surf, on walks with his dog, or go out with his girlfriend.

Lucas Baumgart

Product Designer

Lucas’s work experience is in User Experience, Interface Design and Product Management. As a teen he could trust that “In my home honesty was highly valued and lying was not tolerated.”  When he isn’t at work making sure the Trustyy App is easy on the eyes, Lucas likes hiking, gaming, going out for dinner, and spending time with family.

Cadu Olivera

Front End Developer

Cadu has his education in Analysis and System Development.  While growing up he could always trust that “My parents would be there to support from playing soccer at the park to learning to ride a bike.”   When he isn’t making sure things are easily navigated for our Trustyy App users, he likes to play beach soccer and enjoy music of any type, but specifically rock, country, R&B, and pop.

Mike Curi

Back End Developer

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back-end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what.” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team. 

Roxanne Thayne

Co-Founder/Chief Marketing Officer

Roxanne received her bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education.  She has worked in publishing and marketing for the past 14 years.  In her family Roxanne says she could trust that “Her grammar and posture would be consistently corrected, to help her to become a lady.”  When she isn’t busy writing and beautifying things for the Trustyy App, you can find her reading biographies, practicing yoga, or gathering the family to talk business, celebrate wins or just plain hang out.

Sidney Rodrigues

Co-Founder/Chief Technology Officer

Sidney has a bachelor’s degree in Web Development and has worked in technology for 16 years, building apps for the last 10 years. Growing up he could trust that “It was always expected that I would fix anything related to technology.”  When he isn’t managing the development of the Trustyy App, you will find him spending time with his wife and kids. He loves to make Brazillian BBQ with his family.

Jim Lee

Co-Founder/Chief Product Officer

Jim has a degree in Design and over 25 years of experience creating SaaS products and managing talented product and development teams.  In his years at home as the oldest of five he could trust that “Each child got a weekly ‘night-up’ where we got to stay up late with a parent and do anything we wanted with them.”  When he isn’t looking 10 miles down the road for what will come next on the Trustyy App, you will find Jim canyoneering, doing photography, watercolor painting, or keeping up on the latest gadgets and technologies.

Eric Turner

Co-Founder/Chief Operations Officer

Eric earned his degree in Communications, Public Relations and Advertising, then added on an MBA.  He says he could trust that “His parents were honest people who kept their commitments–especially to their kids.”  When Eric isn’t keeping everyone at Trustyy on task, he is an outdoor enthusiast, year around, rain or shine, cold or hot, with biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Tim Thayne

Founder | Chief Executive Officer

Tim earned masters and doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has 30 years of experience working with families.  While growing up Tim says he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what, and that my dad would require that I respect my mother.”  When he isn’t busy guiding the vision for the Trustyy App, you can find Tim working around the house and yard, taking care of his sheep, dogs and horses, or enjoying a game of Corn Hole with the family.