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.
Parents often do not realize that some grades are more important then other grades during their childs' childhood. It should be noted that few colleges look at grades in nursery school or grade school. The colleges are primarily focused on grades in high school. They rarely request a transcript from grade school. Therefore, the focus during the early years of school should really be more on learning and less only on grades. The knowledge your child attains during the early years will also assist him life in many areas. Knowledge helps your child in his daily life as an adult as well as in getting into college. Also, knowledge can help to perform well on standardized entrance test such as the ACT or SAT. These standardized tests are often required for application to college and there are cut-offs for those eligible to be admitted and scholarships based on these tests.
Parents that do the homework for their child in these early years are not really helping them. Parents should be more of a coach to encourage or answer questions on how to find the information to complete the homework. Even if your child does not have homework on a given night it is important and helpful for the child's future to encouraged him to read or do some academic task. Parents might ask the child for at least an hour after school or dinner on days there is no homework assigned. Parents should keep the goals for your child in perspective as he is growing up. If you loose focus of learning during the early years, especially, you may end up with a child that had good grades but sadly cannot read! A reward program is especially helpful for encouraging your child to read or do homework on a daily basis. The short term gratification of your child getting good grades may not mean anything in the long term for his happiness as an adult and his hopes for going to college or other professions.
People often start to get agitated and then it escalates into a tantrum. Parents and caregivers often have to deescalate the situation or calm it down after it occurs. The following is a list of possible steps to take beginning with deescalation and then to calming a situation. Each person is different so an observation and analysis of the tantrum behavior will help and is essential to identify which methods to use.
1. If the caregiver or parent observes any facial expressions, movements or behavior that show agitation it is best to intervene at this point. The intervention can include relaxation techniques, redirection or a cue word to calm the person down.
2. Once the behavior starts to begin or even when the precursor facial expressions begin the parent/caregiver can redirect the person to another activity or distract them by discussing another topic.
3. Another method of deescalation is to provide some relaxation methods for the person. Perhaps the person is tired and the caregiver can ask if they want to lay down or take a drink of water to relax.
4. Finally, if the behavior has started to occur then usually removing the person from the environment, moving the audience away or ignoring the person and engaging in another activity will deescalate the behavior.
5. Finally any major reinforcers such as affection or activities preferred should not occur if the behavior has escalated at all into verbal or physical aggression.
6. Also, in some cases training or physical management might be necessary if tissue dammage is imminent. 7. 7. However, on of the best way to avoid aggression or tantrusm from occuring is to fill the time during the day with activities and reinforcers for those activities.Finally one should seek advice of a trained Behavior Analyst for aggression or tantrums.
Children with special needs such ADHD or autism spectrum disorder often are not in touch with long term contingencies. Focusing the childs attention on long term contingencies can lead to big improvements in behavior and academic performance. Some tips in focusing on the future are discussed below. When meeting with teachers it is helpful to focus on the potential of your child such as intelligence or social skills. Secondly, the parents can focus on the future by discussing the future with the child. For example, the parent might discuss what car, job, spouse, kids, money or job title they might want when they grow up. This should be done on a regular basis hopefull daily or weekly. Thirdly, the parent might go onto the computer and look at people in jobs or careers the child might like, look at cars they might purchase or computer equipment. Focussing on long term goals will focus their attention on the future.
Parents often struggle with thinking of what to do with their child with special needs (ex. autism spectrum) after he receives his diploma from high school. The following is a review of some of the options they might consider. The caregiver should way the short term and long term benefits of each option for their individual child and themselves.
One option is to place them in a day program with activities. A second option is a workshop setting. Some workshops are "stand alone workshops" and some you can pay or get funding to attend even though they are part of 24 hour living facility. A third option is to try to attain employment in the community either on their own or with the assistance of supportive employment. Supportive employment can be arranged and often the child is sent for evaluation in order to determine the best type of job for him. Another alternative is to have some job arrangement which can be performed in the home such as data entry, phone calls or other jobs in the home.
A sixth alternative is to continue the childs education at Community college or technical school where he can attain credentials or certificates for a job. A seventh alternative is to enroll him in a job for special needs persons such as programs with plants or animals. Some job programs are geared toward hiring only special needs persons. There are a large number of other alternatives. Parents will benefit by dreaming with the child about an ideal job that utilizes skills the child has as well as having reinforcing activities or items the child will enjoy. This "brainstorm" session might include other professionals or friends and will result most likely in a more peaceful and fulfilling life for your child.