These are just general tips to keep in mind and are not meant to constitute a behavioural plan or intervention. The links at the bottom go into more detail about reducing and preventing challenging behaviours.
REWARD THE POSITIVE
- Make sure you are pointing out and reinforcing the desired behaviours. This teaches children that they will get positive attention for work well done.
- If you don’t stick to the rules you have set and tend to give in to the challenging behaviours, your child will become confused about your expectations and challenging behaviours will take longer to become unlearned.
ENSURE YOU PAIR WITH YOUR CHILD
- Pairing is the process by which you make yourself your child’s favourite thing (reinforcer). When you pair well with your child you will gain more instructional control, and it will make undesirable tasks seem less difficult for your child to complete.
TRY TO DEAL WITH BEHAVIOURS WHEN THEY FIRST OCCUR
- The longer you wait to address an undesirable behaviour, the longer it will take to extinguish it.
- If you know that your child will react to certain situations, try to prepare yourself and your child for those upcoming events.
CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES
- Ask yourself if the expectation you have placed on your child is absolutely necessary and worthy of behaviours that may be a result of it.
BE PATIENT AND DON’T GIVE UP
- Undesired behaviours do not go away overnight. Be patient. A challenging behaviour can take 10X longer to be unlearned as it took to learn it.
BE AWARE OF EXTINCTION BURSTS
- Undesirable behaviours often get worse before they get better. This is referred to as an extinction burst, and it’s important not to give up during this phase.
ALLOW YOUR CHILD A SENSE OF CONTROL
- Sometimes behaviours occur when a child feels out of control. Allow for choices if possible before behaviours occur. Ensure that your child understands what is expected of him/her.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY
- Remember, behaviours are a form of communication, and a child doesn’t exhibit challenging behaviours to purposely anger or upset you. The less you take it personally, the less stressful it may be for you to deal with them.
REDIRECT INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOURS TO MORE FUNCTIONAL ONES
- “Trick” your child into positive behaviours by turning an undesired behaviour into something acceptable. If your child picks their nose, be creative and find an acceptable activity that replaces that behaviour. For example, give them a small jar of goo to stick their fingers in.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP
- Dealing with challenging behaviours can be tiring and frustrating. Not all behaviours may be solved by you and you may need to seek professional advice for certain issues.
Other resources to check out: