Parents should realize that nothing is "free" in life and this attitude will help them to be more consistant with reinforcement.
One of the biggest obstacles to teaching your child is realizing that things in life are not free. Parents or Caregivers will be more likely to reinforce once they accept this basic principle of reinforcement. Reinforcers need to delivered consistently. If your child does do something good then this good behavior should definitely be rewarded. In contrast, if the child is inappropriate then he should not be rewarded. The first step is to try to reward any behavior that is positive. For example, if the child cleans his room or eats his breakfast be sure to reinforce your child. Secondly, when your child cries or tantrums try not to reinforce your child. For example, the most common behavior is for parents to pick up and hug a child when he cries. In contrast, the parent should realize that this would be giving a reinforcer for free. The child has not performed any appropriate behavior yet he is reinforced. We all work to get money for food and things that we want. We know that we will probably loose our job over time or not get commissions if we do not work. Consistent reinforcement of behavior will lead to rapid learning and appropriate behavior.
Encouraging your child (to stay on the task and safe) not to leave the home or area when you have activities scheduled.
Parents and caregivers often express that the children do not stay on task or frequently leave the area or even the home during a schedled activity. This ca be a safety issue if you cannot find the child and it can interfere with learning since he does not participate in learning activities. The following are a list fo ideas to encourage him to stay on task and be safe while learning.
1. Evaluate what the reinforcers are for your child and use them to reward him for leisure and educational activities.
2. When he leaves do not over react which might be giving him attention. Instead quietly guide him back to an activity and remind him of the reinforcers for the activity and importance of the activity.
3. Try not to have to much physical contact when guiding back to th activity since physical contact may be rewarding in itself to some children.
4. Always make sure your child has his address and phone number in his pocket or in a wallet or somewhere on him. The home address and phone may be valuable if he forgets this information or does not know the information. Teaching him to tell people where he lives and his phone number should be considered as something important to learn. Some parents even provide the child with a cellphone for emergencies.
5. Consequences of course might be useful in discouraging him from leaving. For example, he may not earn a daily reinforcer or weekly reinforcer if he does leave.
6. Apologizing is helpful and trying to make up for the stress the parent may have if he leaves.
7. Roleplay or discussion can be helpful in stressing the importance of staying together on outings and activities. Discussing the advantages such as saving time so you can do more activities and relax with reinforcing leisure activities afterwards may be useful. In addition pointing out what might happen if it takes a long time to find him he might get upset or hungry for example.
The above ideas may stimulate you to develope a plan to discourage this behavior in the future for your child.
Safety and learning will be improved throught the use of some of the ideas above! Your child will have less problems and more fun if he learns to stay with his group or in his schedule activities!!