Behavior Management: How to Tackle Behavioral Issues of Children

Just a few days back I attended a behavior management workshop done by an eminent group. I am jotting down my takeaways from that workshop.

The workshop was for behavior management for kids on autism spectrum, I have taken the liberty to modify it to meet the criteria for all kids who are on spectrum and for those who are neurotypical (any kind anywhere)

Q. What is behavior?

A. Behavior is an action which can be observed and can be measured. Eg. Hitting – is visible and can be measured how many times he hit in a day. Hitting is a behavior, violence is not. Getting up upset is a behavior, feeling of fear is not a behavior.

Q.When a behavior needs to be changed!?

A. When that behavior is not aged appropriate (eg.thumb sucking by a 9 yo) and/or not in context (eg. Its okay if he does at home but shouldn’t do outside or with others) and/or hampers the learning (not only academic but also life skills) and when there is a harm/destruction to others, to the child or to the environment.

Q. Why a behavior is challenging!?

A. Because the child doesn’t have any motivation to change that behavior. They don’t understand that it’s not appropriate.

Behavior has an underlying cause. Its what we see, but the reason is invisible.

Q. Why a behavior happens!?

A. It happens because of either one or all of the below reasons
1. Need for something (attention, object, food, toy)
2. ‎escaping or avoiding some action (not wanting to study, not wanting to interact with guests, not wanting to sleep, not wanting to go shopping)
3. ‎sensory behavior (sensory overload, its a huge topic in itself, we will discuss that later, if you want)

Q. How to analyze a behavior?

A. Every behavior has an ABC.

Antecedent – something which triggers the behavior. It’s visible, you can see what triggered it. For example, the mother’s talking to anyone else than the child.

Behavior – the actual behavior. How intense, how frequent and how impactful is the behavior.

Consequences – what happens exactly after the behavior – how people and environment react to that behavior. Is the attention given? is the task avoided? Did the consequence encouraged or emboldened to carry-on the behavior!?

Then for changing the behavior, the consequence needs to be changed. The trigger or the antecedent had to be observed as it will give you signs and alert you to behavior before it starts.and remember you don’t only want to stop the unwanted behavior but you also want a replacement behavior which is appropriate and desirable.

Q. How a behavior progresses

A. Trigger -> anxiety – a> escalation -> peak -> de-escalation -> recovery -> equilibrium.

If you want to intervene, the best time to do that is between trigger and anxiety. Or during de-escalation. You cannot use a strategy during the behavior, it has to be just before or after.

Q. How to tackle attention (attention, object, toys, food) seeking behavior?

A.follow the pointers below:

1. Teach the child to wait for attention. Behavior increases if the demand is fulfilled.
2. Change the Consequence.
3. Give delayed or minimal attention. 4.Exaggerating appreciation of good behavior.
5. Try to give the child the needed attention through the day so that the need is fulfilled.
6. By making the child involved in daily chores, interaction, talks plays.
7. ‎Teach appropriate way to ask for attention.

Q. How to tackle avoidance behavior?

A. Follow through your demand from the kid. For eg. If you want the child to write, make sure that the child writes. Its okay to let the child cry. What you can do, instead of saying write the whole thing, say let’s write 4 sentences than 15 minutes break and then again write. The child knows slowly that my crying won’t work, I will have to do what mumma wants… break your demands in sub-demands and make sure those sub-demands are fulfilled.. keep increasing the sub-demands. Tell the exact time and make sure that time duration is followed. Be strict. And reward later on the activity. Don’t use IF-THEN ( that’s bribe). Use FIRST- THEN.

Q. Why noncompliance occurs!?

A. Because the kid doesn’t have the motivation to do that, provide that motivation. Use activities which are up to their level +1. Pair one undesired activity with a desired one… Start slow. Be firm.

I hope this helps.

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