Meme Hieneman, Tracy Raulston, & Laura Strobel 2017-12-15 10:47:43
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO AUDIO VERSION OF THE ARTICLE Positive behavior support is an individualized process for improving children’s behavior in family and community life. It involves the following steps. This is the first of a series of six articles that will guide you through this process. This article is focused on identifying goals. As a parent, you certainly want to make things better for your children and family, but sometimes it’s difficult to figure out where to begin. You may hope to help your children achieve certain outcomes, improve family routines, and address behavior that is interfering with progress. IMPROVING QUALITY OF LIFE Sometimes it’s best to think of the end goal and work your way back from there. For example, you can ask, “What do I want for my daughter?” or “How will I know when my son has been successful?” It is important to consider whether the goals you choose will increase quality of life for your child. You may establish goals in one or more of the following areas: ADDRESSING VALUED ROUTINES Routines are very important for families. Therefore, your goals for your children might be focused on improving a particular routine that is challenging. You might want to focus on getting ready in the morning, playing nicely with siblings, going out to eat as a family, completing homework, or a range of other activities. For each routine, you need to consider what exactly success would look like. Playing nicely with siblings, for example, might mean sharing toys, taking turns, and using words instead of grabbing or hitting. Going out to eat might involve ordering from the menu, playing quietly while waiting for the food, and using utensils properly. DEFINING BEHAVIORS OF CONCERN After you have chosen broad goals routines to address, the next part of identifying goals involves defining behaviors of concern. These include skills your child needs to be successful and behaviors that are interfering with routines and progress. Skills – What are the specific things your child needs to say or do to be successful? For example, your daughter might need to select her clothing by pointing to items she would like to wear before getting dressed. Or your son may need to point to pictures to request specific foods from the menu in a restaurant. Interfering behaviors – What behaviors does your child need to stop doing or decrease? For example, your child may be screaming, hitting other people with his hands or objects, or running away from the designated area during play times. It is important to define behaviors in Clear, Concise, and Observable terms. Clear means that the behavior would be obvious to anyone observing. Concise means that behaviors are described in as few words as possible and only include exactly what happens. Observable means the behavior is described in terms of exactly what a child says or does. In defining behavior, we want to avoid labels and assumptions, sticking just to the facts. Here are some videos of children engaging in different behaviors. In each, let’s consider what skills the child is or could be using to participate in the routine and what interfering behaviors are occurring: For this little guy, Grandma would like him to communicate what he needs more clearly and to eat his snack without the problem behaviors listed below. For this girl, the parents are most concerned with her safety. She needs to learn to ask before going places. In order to know if things are getting better, you need an objective way to measure progress on the behaviors identified. You can use your goals to determine what is most important and will be the best indicators of change over time. You may want to determine how often, for how long, or how intense a behavior is. Depending on the behaviors, you may choose to use one or more of these methods. Counting – For behaviors that have a clear beginning and end, such as taking bites of food, sitting down in a chair when asked, throwing objects, or hitting, you can use simple counts by making tally marks on a sheet of paper or moving a small object like a penny from one pocket to the other. For example, you might note how many bites our child takes of vegetables and fruits on our calendar after each meal. Timing – For behaviors that tend to go on for a while or start and stop such as working on homework or tantrums, you can record when the behavior started and ended, keeping track of the total time. For example, if your child began screaming at 3:42 and continued screaming, throwing objects, and hitting until 4:17 – this tantrum would be timed as 35 minutes. Rating – If you are concerned about how well your child does or how serious a behavior is, you can use numbers or symbols (e.g., smiley/frowny faces) to rate. By doing this, you do not have to count every time a behavior occurs. Tracking progress has to be “doable” or, let’s face it… you aren’t going to do it. Make sure to choose the type of data tracking that makes the most sense for your child’s behaviors and that you can pull off while still continuing your routines. Also, you don’t need to track behavior during every routine, but enough that you can see a pattern or trend. Once you have identified goals for your child and determined how to track progress, the next step in the positive behavior support process is to begin to analyze patterns. The next article in this series will include information about how to gather information to develop a better understanding of your child’s behavior to ultimately help develop effective behavior support plans. LISTEN TO AUDIO VERSION OF ARTICLE
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