Kids don’t misbehave all the time. Even those children with intense problem behaviors. Every once in a while they are calm and quiet, or they comply with a direction. And when they do, adults interacting with them feel it is their break and more often than not ignore those desired behaviors. They shouldn’t.
“Catch them being good.” You probably heard this statement numerous times. But, what it means?
- Reward: make a big deal, praise, provide attention, offer rewards. Do not ignore good behaviors.
- Identify those variables conducive to the appropriate behaviors and replicate them as much as possible. On the same token that you want to change the variables conducive to problematic behaviors, you want to recreate those ones that facilitate good behaviors. For example, if you were able to do groceries with your child in peace, ask yourself “Why?” What happened?” Pay attention at the time of the day and identify patterns. Was your child rested or tired? Did you feed him before leaving home? Was the store not crowed? Did you promise him a treat if he behaved?
- Ask other people in your child’s life (teachers, grandparents, speech therapist, etc.) what helps your child behave. There are aspects of his/her personality you don’t know. How they give directions? Do they yell “No” at the first misbehavior? How they motivate your child to engage in non-preferred activities? Do they reward her or praise is enough? How do they manage to stay calm when problems arise?
This and other information is gold. Do not leave it on the table.Be sure you and the other people interacting with your child are consistent in reproducing those appropriate situations. The more you do it, the more they become second nature and thus, it becomes easier and easier.
And when that happens the quality of your family life will improve dramatically.
Daniel Adatto, BCBA