1. Use Praise
Always provide your child with positive reinforcement when he/she is demonstrating appropriate behavior and/or making an honest attempt to demonstrate appropriate behavior. Be as specific as possible when delivering the verbal praise to your child. Example: “I like how you sat appropriately at lunch and kept your hands and feet to yourself.” Praise can come in a variety of forms and can include but is not limited to the following: a verbal thank you, smile, reward ticket, sticker, and/or some other token economy item at your discretion that works best for you and your child.
2. Avoid Certain Words
Always use positive words when talking to your child after a behavioral incident. It is important to avoid using words that have a negative context such as the following: “NO, Don’t, Stop, Why?’ These words can actually create uncomfortable feelings of anger, resentment, jealously, etc. Try and express your concern in the form of a question. Can you please tell me what a safer method would be to carry eating utensils to the kitchen table?
3. Concentrate on the Present
Always focus on the ‘present’ day and time. Avoid referring to past negative behaviors and experiences. The only time to refer back to a previous incident is to highlight the positive outcome and choice that your child made.
4. Use FIRST-THEN Responses
Using FIRST-THEN responses helps children better understand the sequence of events. When using this intervention strategy, children are more likely to understand what is expected of them in terms of workload whether it be at home or school. Keep the responses very basic and clearly defined. Example: FIRST-Clean room THEN play.
5. Provide Choices
Always provide choices where your child feels as though he/she has a sense of control. By providing choices, your child will have the opportunity of choosing what is most likely preferred versus being told what to do. Example: I need you to help me with the following before your play-date. Here are your choices and you may complete them in any order: clean bedroom, feed dog and wash dishes.
6. Identification of Antecedent
After a behavior incident and/or an escalation in behavior has occurred, always attempt to break down what happened prior to the incident. Ask your child to discuss how he/she felt at the beginning of the day up until that 'breaking' point. It is important to identify all activities and feelings that accompanied each of those activities in an effort to deduce why the problematic behavior occurred. Example: [Child's day] Breakfast: happy - change clothes: happy - brushed teeth - not happy. Your child may express he/she was not happy because while brushing their teeth water splashed from the sink and got their shirt very wet.