1. Before thanksgiving involve the child with stories, activities and discussions about thanksgiving and what it means generally.
2. Review the schedule with your child about what will occur thanksgiving day and what reinforcers you will have scheduled for him/her for good behavior that day.
3. Make sure to ask the child what reinforcers they would prefer or give them a choice (menu) of different reinforcers.
4. Review what reinforcers are chosen for thanksgiving day. Reinforcers are usually most effective following a specific activity. For example, you might include one reinforcer for meal preparation, one for the dinner, a reinforcer for appropriate behavior and social skills during dinner, one for cleaning up or activities after dinner and one for getting ready for bed.
5. Discuss what behavior is expected during the day, at dinner and after dinner.
6. Engage your child in preparing the meal and setting the table or cleaning up. If they do not have many of these skills then even just wiping the table, stirring the ingredients for the pie or putting away his dish are excellent activities.
7. During the meal try not to give your child the reinforcer for social skills and good behavior until he is good for specified period of time or specific behavior. For example, the parent can give him access to the ipod only after he has shared a story or conversation, ate all his meal and sat nicely until the dinner is finished then give him the ipod and desert!! Try to state why the child earned access to the game or other reinforcers so that it is very clear to him what he has to do.
8. A trial run of a dinner prior to thanksgiving day might be good practice so that all the behaviors and reinforcers are familiar to the child!
In summary, prevention (through scheduling of activities, scheduling reinforcers, practicing good dinner behavior and making sure the child understands what the dinner activities) will be will be more likely lead to wonderful memories of a fun thanksgiving holiday with your family.