- Reasonable Goals: make a list of behavior goals. Behavior change is not instantaneous. Some behaviors may stop right away, but most are gradual. Make a hierarchy of behavior change from greatest to least.
- Know your Child's Strengths and Weaknesses - every child is different, and it's important for you to modify your expectations accordingly. It's also important to know what his strengths and weaknesses are so you can recognize when and where to make improvements. Frustration can bring on other behaviors.
- Don't give Consequences that you are unable to follow through with - AVOID:
- Delayed Consequences - the best consequences are immediate. Every moment that passes after a behavior, your child is less likely to link his/her behavior to the consequence. It is less likely to actually change the behavior.
- Excessive Consequences - parents understandably get very frustrated. At times, they may be so frustrated that they overreact. Many parents give punishments that last too long and end up giving up half-way through. Instead, you want to have short-term goals throughout the day. Work toward short-term accomplishments and successes all day long.
- Positive Consequences - when a child plays instead of putting on his jacket or cleaning up his toys and, in frustration, someone does it for him, it's increasing the likelihood that he will not do it next time.
4. Pick one Behavior to work on at a Time - choose a behavior that has the most impact on your child and family. Pick a specific behavior to start with and a time of day when it should be accomplished. Choose a concrete behavior, such as independently dressing before school. These behaviors should be specific, observable, and measurable.
5. Start with Aggressive or harmful Behavior - destructive, abusive or aggressive behavior is a health or safety concern.
6. Ask: "Why is that behavior happening?" - the key to changing a behavior is understanding the function of the behavior, use an ABC data collection chart.
Antecedents - preceding event / trigger for behavior
Behaviors: the specific actions you are trying to encourage or discourage
Consequences - the results that will follow a behavior, consequences good or bad, affect the likelihood of a behavior happening again.
7. Think about the History of the Behavior, ask yourself some Questions:
"Can something be changed in the environment?" - when it's work time, for instance, remove distractions 9 TV, sibling playing nearby etc.), schedule some breaks, make "IF" contracts with child.
Have you made your expectations clear? - both you and your child need to be clear on what's expected and be aware of the rewards / consequences. Present the information verbally and visually. Use picture schedules, token boards, sticker charts etc.
Do you provide time for transition? - whenever possible, prepare children and have a countdown: 10 minutes before turning off the TV, 2 minutes left, etc. Use a timer, verbal reminder, picture schedule.
Do you provide choices? - giving a structured choice - " Do you want to ....... after dinner or before?" Give activities that have a high probability of success before something that is difficult.
Am I consistent? My family consistent? - randomly taking away things, time outs, punishments that aren't consistent, don't work. If you give an item back when the behavior is still being demonstrated than a consequence will lose its worth in the future. If time-out or punishment was issued for not complying with a task, the child needs to complete it. If something is thrown on the floor, it needs to be picked up etc., if mom has a child in time-out, dad can't give him the iPad to make him quiet.
RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES
Center for Parent Information and Resources