With all our children back in school, whether face to face or virtually learning, parents are needing strategies to promote on-task working, paying attention, and participation. A common strategy that works is something called the good behavior game. You, as a parent, make a conscious effort to praise your child when they are on-task with their schoolwork, when they try to answer a question, or when they are listening to you or the teacher. The idea is that they receive positive praise and attention for doing the behaviors you want to see, while not getting attention for those behaviors that are disruptive to the learning environment.
This sounds simplistic, but as a professional and a parent myself, I, too, get caught in redirecting my kids and forgetting to praise them when they are demonstrating the correct behavior. When the kids are listening to their teacher on their headphones and quiet, it is easy to get caught up doing something else and only respond once the pencil drumming begins. Once you begin practicing this strategy and using it, it will become second nature, but it does take some prompts in the beginning. You can have a post it in front of you that says “good behavior” to help remind you.
This strategy works even better when you have more than one child. If one child is working and the other child is out of their seat, you can say, “I like the way you are sitting,” and see if the other child will come and sit down for your attention. If you feel like you need to add a bit more than just praise, you can use stickers for the younger kids, and minutes earned for a preferred activity for your older kids. For instance, you can have a simple tally sheet for each child, and each time you praise them, they earn of minute of time to do an activity of their choice. This will increase motivation, which will support you and your child in focusing on what is going well in the learning environment and bringing attention to those behaviors you want to see.
Behavior interventions don’t have to be complicated, and this one can really change not only the school behavior, but the dynamic between you and your child, putting you as someone who is constantly praising instead of redirecting.
If you are having difficulty or would like additional ideas, please reach out via email to FLAdmin@riseservicesinc.org or visit our website for resources and information.
Dr. Karen Hans, BCBA
Board Certified Behavior Analyst