What About Negative Behaviors?
WHAT ABOUT NEGATIVE BEHAVIORS? (from The Autism Workbook)
So many therapists and parents reach out to me for solutions for a child’s negative behaviors during therapy sessions and they’re sometimes surprised by my response.
When a little friend is having a tough (make that terrible!) day from a behavioral standpoint, I do everything I can to ignore those things while we’re working together.
I ignore them.
Of course you’re not going to let a child hurt you, someone else, or himself.
You’re also not going to let him destroy property.
Remove things that overstimulate a child and cause negative behaviors like throwing, hitting, biting, kicking, etc. However, do it with redirection, not punishment. For example, if a child rips pages out of a paper book or throws a marker every time you want him to color or draw, stop giving him the book and the markers. As you’re removing something he can’t do, give him something he can do.
If he needs to take a break to settle down, think about it as time to recover, not necessarily a “time out.”
Keep your corrective comments brief too. Simply say, “No hitting. Stop.” rather than a long paragraph about how hitting hurts other people, how no one will like him if he hits, how he is in trouble, and all the other things we automatically lapse into when we’re disciplining children. Many children with autism do not understand these words yet, and when they’re dysregulated (or not calm and controlled), they surely don’t!
Last year I read a statistic (so it’s Evidence-Based Practice!) that I am going to hang on for the rest of my life….
Every single person, whether it’s a kid with autism, or his therapist, or his mother, needs eight positive comments for every one negative comment.**
That’s 8 to 1.
Even little comments like, “Quiet hands,” or “Don’t forget to sit criss cross applesauce!” that we say with a smile are still considered negative feedback.
So start counting!
It’s an 8 positive for every 1 negative ratio. Keep data on yourself during a play session. If you realize that you’ve been too negative, forgive yourself and move forward! Start right now praising the positive.
The truth is, all of us love the children we’re working with or have birthed, and we can always find something nice to say.
Actually, we need to find lots of good things to say!
This can make a big difference for kids with autism and most of all, for you!
Don’t you want to be the kind of person who focuses more on what is working than what’s not?
I’ll leave you with that!!
** From marybarbera.com
1 Peter 3:8…. Have compassion : )
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