I absolutely loved this John Tracy lecture. It was one of Monday's lectures, and I was glad to get additional tips for handling behavior issues. Nolan is actually my "easy" child (less strong willed than Matt), but he is more aggressive than his older brother. We try to do the main points offered in the lecture: consistency, routine, positive reinforcement, etc. on a regular basis. There were also several points I had never considered before, including:
- Clear communication. Long lectures are pretty useless with young children. They don't have the language skills or the attention span for it.
- Time outs are not effective for "refusal" behaviors. For instance, a child who refuses to clean up his toys will not benefit from a time out. Time outs should be reserved for more aggressive behaviors.
- Having realistic expectations. If you go out to dinner and your child hasn't had a nap, then you have to expect a meltdown.
- Prevent inappropriate behaviors when possible, with the establishment of logical routines (i.e. dressing before the TV goes on) and with visual aids. This includes the creation of experience books and wall charts to explain daily routines.
A "No No" book could be created for problematic behaviors at home. For instance, if your child constantly throws toys across the room, an experience book could be made with pictures (or drawings) of the child doing the behavior and the consequences (Mommy's unhappy face or an upset friend). Reading the book when you are not "in the moment" helps cement the idea that this behavior is unacceptable.
A "Yes" book could be created with pictures of your child doing appropriate things. Holding hands when crossing the street, picking up his toys, or sharing with her friend.
A "Go" book is useful for errands or multiple trips. This isn't exactly a "book," but a series of laminated pictures on a ring. You can change the pictures for the errands at hand, and use it in the car to show your child what is on the agenda for the day: "First we're going to the post office, then the doctor, then the grocery store." Knowing what is going to come next (and how many trips are expected) helps children cope with a day of errands.
A Routine Wall Chart, reading from top to bottom, is great for very young children. The really little guys don't have left-to-right progression yet, but they instinctively understand the top-to-bottom sequence. You can post pictures of your daily routine on a wall, and remind your child of what is coming next: "After we take our bath, it is time for bed."
I also heard about a concept called social stories from another mom in the program- I plan on trying this one out with Matt. Social stories were originally developed for children with autism, but they work beautifully for children with hearing loss and typically developing children, too.