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Tag: behavior

Back to School

Back to School Transition Strategies

Back to School Emotions

August means back to school is right around the corner!  Back to school means transitioning to new schools, new teachers, new peers, new expectations and new routines! Many kids are excited about the anticipation of a new school year, but for many kiddos “new” can be scary and worrisome. 

Children can communicate their emotions through a variety of behaviors. It’s important as parents and caregivers to be aware of these behaviors to help our kiddos manage their emotions and provide opportunity for a successful transition back to school!

The best way to help our kiddos with new tasks is by creating predictability and maintaining consistency in their routines.  This will help ease their worry and fear while building their confidence for success.

 Simple Strategies to Help Back to School Transition: 

Waking and Bedtime Schedule

We all fall into the summer slump of less structure and organization in the routine of our days. Beginning at least a month prior to the first day of school, begin  implementing a waking and bedtime schedule that will mirror your child’s school time routine.

Visual calendar count down

Time is a vague concept for young kids, so counting the “number of sleeps” until school starts is a meaningful way to incorporate how many days until the first day of school.

Social Stories

Read social stories and talk about expectations for the new school year.  Don’t forget to highlight important details that you know they are looking forward to (including a favorite teacher, familiar classmates, exciting activities they are looking forward to that year), but also recognize and discuss novel tasks that may cause stress (such as attending at a new building, bus rides, lunchtime, whatever it may be).

New Peer Playdates

Reach out to local parent/community groups to set-up park meet-ups/ playdates to become familiar with new peers.

Trial Run

Do a trial run before school starts. Drive by your child’s school to create familiarity.  Is there a park accessible to play at? Go play to create positive experiences associated with the school. This will help to see where you might have some bumps getting on the road and need to tweek parts of your morning routine.

Label feelings

Validate their feelings. Use visuals when you can. Provide your child with a ‘toolbox” of calming strategies to attain/maintain a feeling of calmness throughout their day.

Model Confidence

Model your confidence to make them feel confident (even if you have to fake it); kids feed off of our emotions. This includes talk enthusiastically about what a positive experience this will be, avoid lingering at drop-offs and encourage participation in new activities.

Back to School Mantra

Create a mantra to repeat out loud.  “I am safe” is one of my favorites!

List of Resources

Below are a list of resourceful links to provide more information about typical/atypical behaviors, countdown calendars, addressing feelings and visuals for calming strategies:

  1. Managing Behavior Strategies
  2. Social Story
  3. Journals
  4. Emotions for Kids
  5. Back to School Countdown

Don’t forget, what may seem like a minor problem to us as adults, feels like a BIG problem to our kiddos, especially when they are learning to recognize and handle their big emotions.  Make the experience easier for them by  remaining calm if things do not go as planned, or their reactions don’t meet our expectations. Don’t forget to model flexibility to bumps in routines.  Also,  remember that changes don’t happen overnight and give your child time to settle into their new routines! If things don’t get easier and you would like some additional strategies, please schedule a screening with one of our therapists to help find individualized strategies for you and your child.

Written by Jamie Blough

hitting

My Kid Keeps Hitting

Does your child keep hitting others when he wants what they are playing with? Grab toys away from other children? Kick over other’s toys? These are all considered undesirable behaviors and can be frustrating to watch your child do at home, in their community, or at school.  Here are some strategies to help your child with undesired behaviors. 

Step 1- Hands are not for hitting

Remind your child what their hands are for. Hands are for waving, washing, clapping, counting, drawing, doodling, holding, hugging and eating. Hands are not for hitting. Hitting hurts!

Step 2- Use these words

Teach your child the words to use when wanting something from someone else. Can I please have a turn? Could I see that toy? Let your child know they have to wait for the answer. This may be the hardest part. If a child will not share a toy provide suggestions for another toy to play with.

Kids Fighting

Step 3- Hitting hurts

If a child does hit, have the injured child tell that child,” I don’t like that, that hurts!” 

Step 4- Don’t force apologies

Do not make your child apologize for undesired behaviors. Making a child apologize has no meaning behind it if they are just saying it because you told them too. Some children may use this to their advantage and think, “It’s OK to hit if I apologize afterwards.” Remind your child that it hurts others and our hands are not for hitting. We must use our words to ask for what we want.

If hitting persists or your child is unable to utilize the strategies, call to schedule a free screening with one of our pediatric therapists.  Sometimes, hitting occurs when a child does not have an ample vocabulary or language to make requests or negotiate.  It can also occur when a child excites easily or seeks input.  Our trained therapists will be able to give additional recommendations unique to your child’s needs!

Written by: Jessica Frederick, COTA/L

Busting Behavior Challenges: Behavior Management Strategies

Behavior.  Something sets off your child, and the screaming, throwing, crying, or hitting behavior begins. We have all been there. Your panic rises. Somehow, you make it through the moment and on to the next, but there may be chaos left in the wake of the meltdown as a result of negative behaviors. Occasionally, negative behaviors become more than occasional. When your child is displaying persistent negative behaviors, there are a few strategies you can take to get back on track.

Sensory Strategies:

Addressing the sensory system is a powerful tool in behavior management and redirection. Engaging in these strategies throughout the day can be a preventative means of managing behaviors, where as bringing these strategies into the moment can assist in calming down an escalated child.

    1. Wiggle Jiggles:

      Have your child lay on the floor on their back.  Take hold of the child’s feet and push the feet towards their head/pull towards you. This shifting will cause the head to bounce slightly up and down in an organizing bobbing movement. This also allows pressure to be applied to the spinal column and joints in the legs in a rhythmic manner

    2. Squeeze something:

      Playing in putty, play dough, slime, stress balls (store bought or homemade!) allows for compression of joints and tension release. 

    3. Turn down the lights:

      Bright light wakes our system each morning. Dimmed lights/darkness calms us each night. You can dim lights or move your child to a darker space to reduce stimulation. 

    4. Declutter the environment:

      Having too many things around can be distracting or overwhelming for children.

    5. Stomp your feet:

      Get quick input by a simple movement such as stomping your feet or performing animal walks (bear crawl and crab walk).  

    6. Play quiet/wordless background music:

      Keeping an environment calm with music is a simple way to facilitate play and organization throughout the day. These can include classical music, tones/white noise, or piano versions of favorite songs.

    7. Lotion/Scents:

      Putting scented lotion on yourself or the child, or spritzing scented sprays/lotion can be a preferred way to calm the sensory system and maintain mental clarity.

    8. Chew something:

      Gum, crunchy or chewy snacks such as apples, carrots, celery sticks, thick rod pretzels, trail mix, or thick smoothies/milkshakes through a straw allows for the management of our taste buds and behavior.

    9. Provide a safe/quiet place:

       A safe place or quiet space can be found in a back seat of the car, a tent, a closet, a corner with bean bags, or anywhere that is enclosed. When overwhelmed, a child benefits greatly from having space to themselves to decompress.

    10. Join a class: Movement and engagement throughout a child’s day is extremely valuable.  Sign your child up for a community class such as gymnastics, swimming, karate, or soccer will get the muscles moving and the body calm!

Behavior Strategies:

 

Managing behavior through reinforcement and consequence strategies can be very effective for young children that are prone to outbursts or misbehavior:

    1. ABC Charts:

      Charts help document and remain objective about what behaviors we observe.  ABC charts help us determine the cause of negative behaviors. Write down the antecedent (A) what happened before the behavior, the behavior (B) in detail, and the consequence (C) that followed the behavior. Having this data allows us to develop the most effective intervention for behavioral challenges.

    2. Schedules:

      Visual (Picture) schedules or verbal schedules given throughout a day help provide guidelines for the day’s events or task expectations. This allows the child to understand what the day or activity will entail. It also allows the child to process what the day/week/month will hold so they can prepare themselves, their bodies, and their abilities.

    3. Countdowns/Timers:

      Using a timer allows the child to understand with warning that an end to a task is coming. The preparation a child can do mentally when forewarned about a transition will increase ease of moving on to the next thing!

    4. Behavior charts:

      A child benefits from a clear goal.  This can be achieved by giving a child direct and concrete feedback about their performance through a “behavior chart”. 

    5. Having a job:

      Give a child something special to do (teacher helper, passing out papers, retrieving a special item, making something specific). This gives children ownership in their actions and helps keep behavior on track! 

    6. Working for….:

      When we find that “Just-right” motivation for a child, we can allow them to work and behave accurately to achieve the motivating item/action! 

    7. First/Then:

       “First this activity, Then that activity” strategy tells a child clearly and completely what the expectation of behavior is and doesn’t allow for questions or confusion. 

    8. Rewarding positive behavior:

      Providing your most engaged, thrilled, and enthusiastic praise to your child for the behavior you expect and appreciate, with clapping, cheering, smiling, hugging, etc. will encourage your child to perform at their best again and again!

    9. Clear expectations of desired behavior:

      When telling a child “STOP behavior!”, they may only hear or process the behavior you have highlighted, and/or may not completely understand what you are asking of them. Rephrasing corrective statements to “Do” instead of “Don’t” actions can be helpful. For example, instead of saying “Don’t dump the cars out of the bucket!”, tell them “Keep the cars in the bucket”. Or, instead of staying “Stop running!”, tell them “Use your walking feet!”.

    10. Remain calm (Yourself!):

      Finally, the most important thing you can do when you encounter negative behaviors is to keep yourself in a calm state. As our level of excitement/frustration increases, so does our children’s. This causes us to lose our ability to correct with a clear and sound mind. Taking a deep breath, finding our center, and taking a moment to calm ourselves is often the most important step in the path to managing negative behaviors.

Managing challenging behaviors can be extremely difficult, but achieving success in this area can be life changing. If these strategies are not proving to be effective enough to get your days back on track, please contact BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy for a free consultation to get your child out of the behavior blues!

Written By: Margaret Lord, MS, OTR/L