Choose Your Own Adventure Parenting - Tracking Behaviour
I like to call this “Choose your own adventure” it is a technique called tracking.
In which a child is given two options (and gets to choose which they take) having had their parent/caregiver already tell them the outcome of each choice.
"If you come up to the table to eat your dinner, then I will leave the tv on/the tv can stay on"
"If you do not come to the table to eat, then I will switch the tv off/the tv will have to go off"
The beauty of this technique is that the child has control over their choices and yet the parent/caregiver has the control over the outcome.
This can be used in a multitude of ways and situations. If, Then is the contingency, see Teaching Appropriate Behaviours, using this technique makes you a trustworthy source of reliable information to a child.
As long as you are consistent in your approach and stick to what you have promised. Therefore do not promise or threaten outcomes you are not willing to do. If you always do as you say you'll do, you are reliable and trustworthy.
This technique should not be used in a (punitive) harsh punishing manner, but rather to reminder the child of consequences of certain behaviours.
Many families I have worked with use this technique with Time Out (exclusion/removal from area or of an object) very effectively to decrease undesired behaviours and increase desired behaviours in their children.
Examples of this include;
If you share your toys with your sibling, then you can keep playing with them
If you do not share/fight over the toys, then they will have to be put away for another time
If you speak nicely to me, then I will help you with what you are asking for
If you do not speak nicely (swearing or shouting), then I will put you on Time Out until you have thought about how you are expected speak to me (and are ready to say sorry and try to do better)
Catching a child before they engage in an undesired behaviour is ideal.
Friend or younger sibling hits/bites the child, upon seeing this you tell the first child that they are not to do this and remind the child who has been hit/bitten.
Child who hit/bit gets consequence (Time Out)
If you hit/bite (the other child) you will go on Time Out
If you do not hit/bite you will be allowed to keep playing (and other child receives consequences)
Children will attempt to control people and situations if they are unable to predict what will happen next in their lives, or are used to unpredictable circumstances. This is a sign of anxiety caused by lack of predictability in their lives.
By predicting for them what will happen you establish yourself as a stable, predictable, trust worthy person and they will trust that you will do what you say you will do. This reduces anxiety and disordered behaviour in children greatly.
To learn more about this check out:
How to have happy, healthy kids
How to teach appropriate behaviours
How to give consequences lovingly
Time out: How to do it lovingly and properly
How to understand and change challenging behaviours
Where did I learn about this from?
Professional Development and team meetings as part of an Early Intervention centre for Autism, run by a world renowned Clinical Psychologist
Want help getting your kids to listen and be helpful? I'd love to help you and your family. Let's work together!
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Here's to you being Happy, well, and fed (delicious, healthy, inspiring, whole foods)