One thing to consider is what the location is for the time out you use with your child. Parents or caregivers should make sure there is very little reinforcement available in the room used for time out. If the bedroom is full of fun toys and activities this is not an area for time out. Try to use a room with very few reinforcers or locate the toys in a separate cabinet in another play area or room so that the bedroom is not a location full of reinforcers.
When planning the reinforcers in your child's' day one should be careful to make sure they all work together.
Including a reinforcer for good behavior the entire day, reinforcers for specific behaviors and long term reinforcers. When designing a program each of these should compliment each other. If you are reinforcing one behavior then the overall behavior for the day should not occur if a tantrum occurs for example while setting the table for a reinforcer. If you accidentally reinforce inappropriate behavior it may lead to the inappropriate behavior continuing to occur or even occurring more frequently.
Parents and Caregivers often become frustrated with clients or their own children. This occurs even more often when working with children with behavior problems or diagnosis such as autism. The following are some tips for handling stressful days!
1. Parents and Caregivers should plan time to take breaks from teaching and relax. Parents can do this by hiring a babysitter, having time for walks, taking deep breaths, relax each muscle systematically in your body, count to ten or baths to relax. Time for yourself is important to keep your balance when dealing with difficult behavior problems.
2. Incorporate time for teaching your children into your routine so that you can accomplish errands and not become overwhelmed with activities in your day.
3. When you realize you are feeling tired or stressed a quick trip to the bathroom, drink some cold water or other drink or to relax in a soft chair may help you to cope with a stressfull situation. After you are calm then return to the situation and things will be easier to resolve.
4. If you child does something upsetting in a public place you may have to work on this problem at a later time. Perhaps roleplaying difficult situations after dinner or brainstorming theses situations will help you to avoid these upsetting situations in their future.
5. Parents or caregivers can change a stressful situation into an appropriate one by simply changing the subject. For example, the parent might say wow look at the rain outside it is really pouring or I can't find my cellphone can you help me find it.
6. Parents can have cue words for their children that they say when they are getting upset so the child is aware and can avoid a big argument. Parents might say for example "use your words and ask me what you want". This is a good cue or reminder for the child and this can result in a more appropriate or less upsetting interaction with the parent.
Parents and caregivers must realize that their own behavior can escalate a problem. By making efforts to relax, change the subject or talk about similar situations (role play) later you can reduce the number of situations that upset you and your child in the future.
How to use electronics as a reinforcer without causing increase in tantrums or other behavior problems with autistic, aggressive and other childhood behavior problems or developental delays?
Computers and electronic devices have become very powerful reinforcers for many children in the past few years. Parents and Caregivers can use the following methods to more effectively and without behavior problems such as tantrums.
1. First thing the caregiver should do is select the reinforcers specificlally through asking the child or an inventory which identifies the most powerful electronic reinforcers.
2. Next the caregiver or parent should explain specifically to the child what he has to do to attain the reinforcer. For example, the parent might say if you do your chores, have no tantrums or screaming, get ready for school on time then you can use the iphone that day.
3. Next once a behavior occurs he/ she will not gain access to the reinforcer the next day or longer as specified by the parent or guardian. This should be a definite rule regarding how many days or hours of good behavior are required to attain the electronic and how many days he/she must have good behavior in order to attain the reinforcer for a specified amount of time.
4. If the child resists giving up the computer or phone there are environmental ways of preventing the use of them without a struggle. One way is to put the phone away once they go to sleep if there was a tantrum that day. Secondly, the keyboard or mouse can be put away in a locked reinforcer cabinet if there is a tantrum and the reinforcer is the computer. Another technique is to remove the battery from a device, turn off the fuse box.
5. Parents might consider adding a password that can be turned on and off on a electronic device or computer.
6. Parents should consider turn off a television with the remote or if there is a parental lock or timer this can be useful in making sure the reinforcer is delivered consistently.
7. Parents should try to give the child at least one or two warning statements so that the child is prepared and realizes that he has not behaved appropriately.
8. Finally it is important to make sure that the parent states the rule as a house rule and not as something mean imposed on the child. Also, the parent should state something empathetic such as " I wish you could have earned the phone or computer today that is too bad I am so sorry about that. Maybe you will earn it tommarow."
9. In order to prevent a tantrum parents should include the time from the loss of the item to the time it will be earned as a criteria for earning the reinforcer again. For example, if you are good and do all your chores and no tantrums or screaming you will probably be able to earn computer time tommarow.
In general, the parent should be viewed as a sort of Santa Clause or bearer of gifts for the child not an negative person that enforces the contingency. This attitude of the parent will lead to a more postive relationship with the parent, less arguments and behavior problems in the future!:)
Birthdays and your child with developmental disabilties, autism or young children. How do you make the party fun for your child!
Planning a birthday party for a child it is important to analyze your child and decide what his/her reinforcers are. If you spend money on something that is not reinforcing the party may end in tears! Some children enjoy social attention, some enjoy tangible objects and some enjoy sensory stimulation.
Attention focused partiesIf your child enjoys attention the focus of the party might be on the child and giving him/her attention. For example, games that focus on the child, songs that focus on the birthday child, favorite foods the child likes. Finally, if a child likes attention a smaller number of guests might be considered so that it is easier focus on the birthday child. If there are alot of children the attention might be diverted to other kids more easily.
Tangible reinforcers- If your child enjoys tangible reinforcers then the most important things are the actual objects such as gifts, food or activities that he/she likes. Make sure these items are visible and remind the child that they will be opened or available during the party!
Sensory reinforcement- If your child likes sensory reinforcement then focus on the sounds perhaps nice music will lead to a more enjoyable experience for the child. Frequently hugging or patting him/her on the back will be crucial if that is what they enjoy. Also, gifts should be geared towards sensory experience of sound or vibration or other tactile stimulation.
Finally, these reinforcing items should be available contingent on good behavior otherwise the child might spend the whole party playing a computer game and miss the other activities. The other advantage of knowing what types of things are reinforcing to your child is that inappropriate behavior such as crying or tantrums can be avoided by providing items or activities they really enjoy after the child has shown the enthusiasm and smiles and appropriate behavior you want for them at their birthday party. If the party is enjoyable they will have happy memories in the future of their birthday parties and you!
Parents and caregivers often forget or do not realized the importance of a daily schedule. This schedule should include two specific types of events at the least. These are describled and listed below. A detailed schedule which includes both activities and rienforcers will usually lead to elimantion of inappropriate behavior and maintenance of good behaviors.
The first thing that should be included in a schedule is the actual activities and the time frames in which they occur. Some examples include activities such as school, workshop that occur on a daily basis during week-days. Also, include activities such as outings or vacations that may occur only once a month or once a week.
Another type of activity are self-care activities that occur daily such as going to the bathroom, brushing teeth, eating breakfast, dressing. Also, daily living activities such as chores of wiping the table, taking the trash, making the bed, moping, cooking or cleaning the dishes. Bedtime and time to wake up are important factors to include in the schedule since children need more sleep and behavior problems are often correlated with a lack of sufficient sleep for people. The more detail is preferred so that if another caregiver is there even just for a few hours the routine is still followed. Also, children with autism and developmental delays as well as any child prefer to have a routine which reduces frustration and confusion related to what activities will be done that day.
Secondly, caregivers or family should include in the daily schedule reinforcers. For example, time to use the computer, television, radio, toys can be built into the schedule as available if the behavior is good. A token exchange or time to choose a reinforcer can also be included in the schedule. The schedule should be updated and reviewed regularly for any changes needed in order to assure that it produces the maximum beneficial effect on the childs' behavior!
The latest trend is to purchase an iPad or computer and assume that this will teach your child everything!
There are three important things to note about the use of an electronic device.
First, the computer itself does not teach your child. If the software has reinforcers built into the games or activities that you purchased then this might work. However, if your child does not like the particular reinforcer in the program then the child will not learn. For example, if your child likes music and the reinforcer in the game is music delivered for a correct response then the child will not learn. Before purchasing a game it is important to look at the game and see if the reinforcers are included.
Secondly, it should be noted that many games are specifically designed to include reinforcers and many are not. Some are based on psychological research including games such as those developed by "Headsprout" ( recently purchased by another company) and many others. Parents should read and look at the information about the games to see if they are based on research or psychological principles such as reinforcement.
Third, parents should also consider the skills taught by the electronic device. Are these skills you want your child to learn. There are games to learn most anything such as spelling, reading, self-care skills, morals, social skills and much more. I contrast it should be noted that children might model some behavior in games and there is such discussion and research that indicates that some aggression can be learned from modeling of television or games. This should be considered in your purchase of a game. Games your children might like might have some benefits and some deficits in their affect on your child's' behavior. All of these factors should be weighed and considered before purchasing a device and programs for your child.