Sometimes it's hard to know where to start

A big challenge for many learners with neurological or developmental differences can be homework completion. This can also be a huge hurdle for some family systems as it creates one more thing for parents to manage with their children and one more source of conflict that erodes the child’s confidence and connection with parents. Taking a small piece of the process from Dr. Thomas Phelan’s “1-2-3 Magic”, I often employ a no talking strategy. Instead, I just start the work that I see is outstanding by do things like making a copy of the template and then asking the learner to do one small step like save it in the correct folder or type their name, date, etc. This seems to really help them get started without arguing or avoiding. When I give them just a small task, it's as though the next thing I ask seems small enough to manage and then the next and the next. If I ask them to start from zero to make their own plan, it's as though they cannot figure out where to begin and all the resistance starts. Of course, this resistance is just self preservation. The learner cannot find where to start or is concerned they won’t know some step along the way. When I take over the start process, it all becomes more manageable.

That said, I do want students to learn how to approach more complicated planning and organizing. I won’t be around forever to get things started for them. The difference is that I will not use homework as the practice space. Homework is intertwined with too many feelings and expectations of success and failure to be effective in targeting the planning and organization practice. When I support learners to practice these executive functions, it is in low stakes areas such as household chores or small, fun projects. This way they get the practice but without the pressure of grades and teacher expectations.

Behavior Babble with Pam and Barb ~ Part 2 of our review of "10 Days to a Less Defiant Child"

Episode #15: BEHAVIOR BABBLE! 2nd 1/2 of Book Review: 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (part 2)

Behavior Babble continues with part 2 our book review of "10 Days to a Less Defiant Child" by Jeffrey Bernstein. Barb and Pam review the last chapters of the book and reflect on how the book has been helpful in their support of parents. From garnering support in the extended family to working with school and other professionals, Bernstein and 10 Days has great tips, tricks, and reminders to help families support their defiant child.

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Routines not Reaction

Having a set routine of events may lessen a child’s controlling actions during a certain time frame. Much like we all have rituals and routines to make life easier for us (think about the way you go through the grocery store or the way you get ready for work in the morning) so too will a child feel less controlling if there are a series of events that lead one to the other regardless of behavior. So instead of a tussle with sibling meaning the tv goes off and it's time for bed, the tussle with sibling just means the toy goes away and child needs to apologize. The order of events (snack-teeth-snuggle-books) stays roughly the same and if there are tussles in between, they get dealt with separately from the routine. This way it can help a parent stay focused on the purpose of the behavior (likely expressing an emotion or seeking control) outside of the necessary routines of the evening. This should lessen the struggle to do the necessary tasks because they happen in a general order every night regardless of anything else. This routine lowers the overall uncertainty that a child seeks to control in his/her life. While it will still be that they will have to negotiate certain changes to the routine, if the general order of events stays predictable and extricated from behavior, it will allow both parent and child to have more energy to manage the changes because the routine is managing the usual stuff.