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. 

Sometimes there is just a rule

Working with a 12yo on a writing assignment recently, we got into a discussion about word use. He wanted to use colloquialisms, contractions, and pronouns without first explaining what he was referring to. For example, the assignment was to review a TED talk and respond in a paragraph to a question posed by the teacher. The teacher referred to the speaker using his name and my student wanted to start his paragraph with a sentence along the lines of He has no flippin idea what he’s gonna do at first. While it is great that my learner had heard and understood the content of the TED talk, his rudimentary vocabulary choices were not appropriate to this audience. All new writers struggle with the transition between speaking and writing, but for many students with Autism, this transition is a mystery. In particular, if the act of using their hands to type or write is overly challenging from a motor planning perspective, tools like voice to text offer a great work around. The problem is that now the writer IS speaking the words so what on earth do we expect him to think about writing? Enter the title of this post. I have established with this learner that sometimes there are just rules about life. He does’t have to like it, but writing is not like talking. When writing we have to always assume that the reader has no prior knowledge so we have to spell out everything, even if it small. It is best to use our most sophisticated vocabulary because the words we have written are the only way this person will know who we are. And even though it adds a step/letters/work, we do not use contractions in formal academic writing. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, which I will teach him as we continue to work together but for now, he is learning to live with Sometimes there is just a rule.