While in graduate school for education and school psychology, I learned about the principles of positive behavior support, a research-based practice. At the time, I was working in a group home with individuals with a variety of emotional and behavioral needs. I knew this was the perfect setting to implement my newly learned strategies. I immediately saw the positive impact on my clients, and knew that I would use these strategies to interact with children for the rest of my life, in both professional and personal settings. As a tutor, mobile therapist, school psychologist, behavior specialist, and mother I have continued to use these strategies with extreme success for the past 19 years. Many people think that positive behavior support is just a reward system, like a sticker chart, and when that doesn’t work, they think the process doesn’t work. Positive behavior support is so much more. It is a form of communication and it is a science. When you learn to use it in its truest form, you see how effective it truly is.
Some of the major components of positive behavior support include:
1 – Telling your child what to do instead of what not to do.
2 -Using empathetic statements to show your child that you understand how he/she feels.
3- Giving specific positive feedback when you see your child engaging in positive/appropriate behaviors and following expectations.
4- Setting expectations ahead of time and allowing your child to work for the things that they want rather than punishing/taking thing away when they do something you don’t approve of (in some cases logical consequences are necessary such as removing a child from a situation in which they are hurting someone or having your child work to earn money to fix something they broke – but in general try to set up an earning style discipline format).
Related Article: How to Use Natural and Logical Consequence to Improve Children’s Behavior
5 – Giving your child a “heads up” so they know what is coming and know what to expect, rather than making quick/abrupt unexpected changes (this is not always possible, just do your best).
6 – Giving your child choices about what to eat, what to wear, what to do first or second, etc. (again, may not be able to be done every time, but do your best). For young children or children with learning difficulties providing two to four choices is an appropriate starting point.
7 – When expecting your child to perform a task such as cleaning up their room or putting away laundry, work with them and guide them through the process until they become independent at it (they may need specific instructions about where to put things and may need larger tasks broken down into smaller, manageable steps).
8 – Talking to your child about appropriate ways to handle their emotions during a calm/happy period, rather than when they are angry/emotional (The logical and reasoning centers of our brain are not working as productively during angry/emotional states).
These are just some of the principles of positive behavior support, but there are many more. For more tips check out:
Top 10 Discipline Tips for Kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (Helpful Tips for All Kids)
How to Prevent Temper Tantrums (Home and School)
17 Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen to You and Show You Respect
How to Motivate Your Students and Get Them to Listen to You (39 Effective Strategies for Classroom Management)
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Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, educators, and counselors to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them.