This is our last installment aimed to help you understand why your child may be misbehaving. So far, you have looked at some factors revolved around your child's behaviors. Now what?!
When you think you know what’s maintaining a behavior you can try to change it!
This means that when the things that happen just before a challenging behavior occurs or is about to occur, you can change the way it happens and change the way you respond to it. If you just made cookies and your child will frequently engage in tantrums when they cannot access cookies, approach your child before they ask and tell them that they can have a cookie once they clean up all of their toys. You can also teach a child that tantrums for cookies to ask for them appropriately. At this stage, any appropriate form of communication should immediately and consistently access a cookie. You can break the cookie into smaller pieces while you are training up these appropriate requesting behaviors.
If you know your child is trying to get access to something, you can use that reinforcer and make sure that the child can only get it when behaving appropriately. For example, if your child is trying to get your attention by screaming, you can ignore screaming, but provide lots of attention for saying “Mom”. Just remember- you need to make sure that the child never accesses the item/ has the item removed when inappropriate behaviors occur. The most important thing to consider when teaching an appropriate alternative behavior is response effort: make sure that the child can emit the appropriate behavior and that it is easier than the inappropriate behavior. For example, for a child with limited language skills, it would be inappropriate to require the child to say "I would like a cookie, please" especially because crying or hitting is much easier to do!
If your child has strong language skills you can tell them the new rule. Use the tips on Getting your Child to Listen to help you set the new rules.
Let us know if you have any questions or if the changes you have made have helped your child change their behaviors!