Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Increasing Positive Behavior

Overcoming Non-compliance

Sigh!!!  I think this has been my Achilles Heel (Okay, maybe not my only one)!  Chase struggles to comply with directives.  He either seems not to hear what I ask of him, downright disobedient, or says he can’t do it – (“Mommy help me” seems to be one of his favorite phrases).  I don’t mind helping – when he needs it, but when he knows how to put his clothes on and he tells me he can’t, and “mommy help me” it kind of falls on deaf ears.  

Before I attended my ABA training it took him almost an hour to put on his clothes.  Now I turn on the timer (we have several that we use) and tell him “Okay, when you get dressed you get to put a sticker on your chart.”  My, what a difference, he now gets dressed in about four minutes flat!  What am I doing differently, you may ask?  Well, following are five easy steps to gaining better compliance (granted we aren’t 100%.  Then again I’m not at 100% compliance to what I need to do either, sigh!  I guess that is where they get it!).

Five Easy Steps

Give clear instructions. 

  • Avoid using the phrase “Can you . . .” and “Do . . . Okay?”  This implies that they have a choice.  Say what you mean – if it isn’t a choice don’t give it to them!!
  • Provide directives with a neutral or positive manner.  My oldest bristles when he is told to do something – but I am more able to get him to do it when I give the directive in a neutral or positive voice.  He doesn’t feel like he is being ordered around (although in fact he is). 
  • Last but not least - it is important to give clear and concise directions.  I tend to be wordy (can you tell), it has gotten me in trouble with my students and with my children.  The more my directions are to the point the better!

Use Please and Thank You Carefully

When I told my husband that we needed to refrain from saying please and thank you when giving our kids directions he resisted big time.  “This world needs more please and thank you!” he argued.  While I agree with him, I also learned something important.  When we say please when giving our child directives they will get that mixed message of “Oh, this is a choice.”  Thank you also denotes some choice.  Then they think – “really, I didn’t have to do it!  Next time I’m not gonna!”  Does that mean please and thank you become extinct from our vocabulary?  NOPE – just use them for those unexpected behaviors.  
Yay, my room is clean!

Instead of saying “Thank You” give behavior-specific praise.  Think about it.  Which would you rather hear?  “Chase, can you clean your room?”  After it is done “Thank you.”  Or “Chase, when you clean your room you get to play with the ipad”  Later, after the room is clean – “Wow, you did an awesome job cleaning your room.  You earned the ipad for 15 mintues.”  Cool concept, eh!

Graduated Exposure

This has been generally used to gradually provide exposure to something that causes anxiety or fear in someone.  We have used graduated exposure at the pool.  Chase becomes overwhelmed by the echoes of the indoor pool, the water lapping at his feet.  Each time we go to the pool we start slowly.  We let him get comfortable with the water while holding his hand.  When he was younger he would grasp us around the neck with all of his might.  We waded into the water and help him.  I sat in the water holding him until he let go of my neck.  He then settled into my lap for a bit.  Finally, usually about the time to head home, he would start venturing out.  Now this process is much faster.  He holds on to my hand until he is comfortable and then he just dives in.  Granted, it has to be no higher than his knees, but he is in the water.  

We are now working on a different hurdle in our weekly lives.  Chase struggles with the hour required to sit quietly each Sunday during our Sacrament Meeting (some call it the Lord’s Supper).  We are working on slowly increasing the amount of time he is required to sit, instead of making him jump in head first.  For the first 50 minutes we will hang out in the foyer working on quiet behavior.  The last 10 minutes we will sit in the back of the chapel, and have the kids sit quietly either writing/drawing, or looking at picture books.  Once they have been successful at this we will up it to 20 minutes.  Eventually we will be sitting the whole hour.  Hopefully it won’t take a year for that, but if it does – so be it.

Follow Through

The kids need to know the rules, they need to have a say in the setting up of the rules, and what happens when they are broken.  Once the rules are established and a directive is given it is imperative that I require them to do it!I It also means that if I promise the kids something and THEY follow through I have to be ready to provide said promise.  Perfect example, I make sure the last sticker that the kids earn doesn’t coincide with bedtime or when we have to leave for school/church etc.  

Offer Choices

Last but not least, giving my kids choices has been a deal changer at our home.  My kids, Chase in particular, love having some control over their lives.  For example – when we work on homework I allow him to choose what we start with.  I allow my kids to choose what to work on when we are doing chores.  It surprises me what they choose.  My ten year old wanted to dry the dishes instead of clear the table.  OK – I’ll take the ten second job over drying any day!!!!  Unfortunately giving choices has its drawbacks – my kids let me know if I forget to give them a choice, and sometimes they will protest when a choice isn’t given to them (Like going to bed!  Hmmm, maybe I need to come up with a choice for that too – NAH!!!)

Putting It All Together

We’ve been practicing these five steps on a daily basis.  We have three 30 minute sessions a week where we work on behaviors that we are trying to improve.  For the past month we have been working on getting dressed.  Remember how it took an hour, now only 4 minutes.  This is what it looked like at the beginning:

Mom:  “Chase, when you have your underwear on do you want to jump on the trampoline or do wheel barrows?”
Chase “Wheel barrows.”
Mom: “Let’s try again.  What do you want to do?” (Since we are working on full sentences)
Chase”  “I want to do wheel barrow.”
Mom, “Great job telling me what you want to do.” 

After the wheelbarrows.  

Mom:  “Do you want to put on your shirt or pants next?”
Chase:  I want my pants.
Mom: Awesome, when you have your pants you can jump on the trampoline or do the crab walk.  Which one do you want to do?
Chase:  I want to do the crab walk. 

After the crab walk
Mom: Chase you are doing such an awesome job putting on your clothes.  What is next?
Chase: I want my shirt.

And it went on.

Now it goes like this:
Okay Chase – It’s time to press the timer.  If you beat the timer you get to put a sticker on the chart.  How many more stickers do you need before you get the _________? 

The first thing he earned was play dough and a cutting tool.  He then presses the timer and flies through getting dressed.  I gave a clear and concise directive; I originally used a form of graduated exposure, now he just does it.  I expect him to follow through and I offered choices.  Getting dressed is now not one of my top ten objectives of behavior changes.  Now we get to focus on other stuff (although we continue to stay on top of quickly getting dressed.  We got lax the other day and he missed the bus – BAD MOMMY!!!). 

1 comment:

  1. Amazing! Clear, simple, and amazingly concise advice. Excellent! Thank you for sharing on NOBH!