Did you learn to read on your own by picking up a chapter book? Statistics about the accident rates in our teenage drivers are evidence of our inability to get behind the wheel of a car, following all traffic laws and driving safely, without extensive practice. Musicians don’t pick up an instrument and sheet music and instinctively know how to play. They practice until they perfect that song on that instrument. Each of these involve a set of behaviors that took practice over time to learn!
Whether you’re wanting your child to listen more, play on his/her own, or be able to stay calm when told “no”, you can expect that it will take time to learn. We can teach the skills quicker by intentionally creating opportunities to practice the expected behavior with your child during play or leisure time. Here are 5 tips to help you support your child to practice using desired behaviors!
Why does your child act a certain way?
The first step to teaching a new, desired behavior is to identify why your child uses unwanted behavior in the first place. Maybe your child whines when told no, hits a sibling when the sibling gets your attention, or ignores you when you ask him/her to put shoes on. By first figuring out why he/she uses this unwanted behavior in the first place, you can then identify what to teach him/her to do instead.
What would you like your child to do instead?
Maybe it’s to say “When can I play with that toy?” when someone else is playing with that toy. Maybe it’s or to put his/her shoes on when you tell him/her to put them on the first time. By identifying what you’d prefer your child to do instead of using unwanted behavior, you are creating a realistic end goal for your child’s desired behavior!
Recognize the baby steps.
Once you’ve determined what you would like your child to do instead, know that it may take several smaller steps of practicing parts of the behavior before reaching the end goal. Toileting is a great example of using baby steps to support your child to learn to use the potty! You likely still support your child to wipe, to remember to wash his/her hands and to go use the bathroom during routine times to get into new habits.
Practice makes perfect!
Find a time when your child’s “light switch” is on and guide them to practice using the desired behaviors! Talking teaches talking, but practice by using role play teaches doing!
Connect with a behavioral consultant for guidance.
If you find that as much as you are trying to teach your child a new skill it just doesn’t stick, we would love for you to give us a call and see how we can support you! Your introductory, assessment 30-minute call will give you insight into why your child is using unwanted behaviors. During consultation, we tailor our tools and techniques to effectively and efficiently help you reach your end goal. We would love to help support your family to go from wanting your child’s behavior to change, to supporting your child’s long-term behavior change!
Anna Milligan, MS, BCBA
Jamie Waldvogel, MS, BCBA