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What to Do When Your Behavior Chart Isn’t Working

Have you found that your child’s behavior chart is no longer as effective as it once was?  Or, maybe you’ve been working at it for weeks but have yet to observe your new behavior system actually working.  Well, you’ve come to the right place.  Today’s blog is all about making adjustments and modifications to your behavior system.  At this point, it may be tempting for you to throw away the whole idea of using behavior charts at all.  While I’m certainly not claiming that behavior charts are always the answer to managing your child’s behaviors, they can be a very effective parenting tool.  So, don’t give up!  If your behavior chart has not been working, try considering the following.

What to do when your behavior chart isn’t working:

  • Review the expected behaviors- New behaviors take time for children to learn and build into theirbehavior-chart-main routines. Be sure the behavior you want your children doing is understandable to them and age-appropriate.  Before a child can be expected to demonstrate behaviors independently, he/she can practice engaging in the behaviors with an older sibling or an adult.
  • Consider the motivators/rewards- If you already have a behavior chart set up, then you’ve (hopefully) already identified rewards. The rewards your child earns must be motivating to him/her.  A common misconception is that these rewards have to be purchased items or experiences.  Sure, most children are motivated by new toys, but there are other privileges and experiences that cost no money at all.  So get creative!  For example, a few extra minutes of play before bed, special time with a parent, or sitting in “mom’s seat” during dinner are all rewards that have been very motivating for a number of children.  Many parents also find it helpful to have a list of rewards and allow their child to choose what he or she earns.
  • Explore alternative strategies- Behavior charts can be an effective parenting tool for a number of reasons. One of the potential advantages to using a behavior chart is that it eliminates the need to make day-to-day (or minute-to-minute) decisions of how to respond to a child’s behaviors.  It is possible that if you’ve been consistently responding to your child’s behaviors and they do not seem to be learning from the rewards and consequences provided, a different intervention may be warranted.  Don’t hesitate to contact a professional social worker for parenting support.


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What did you do when your behavior chart stopped working?  Do you have other ideas of how parents and caregivers can get the most out of their behavior management system?  Your comments are welcome below.

 NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

psychological effects of spanking

The Psychological Effects of Spanking and the Most Effective Way to Discipline Instead

The Psychological Effects of Spanking:

Although it may seem like spanking has been the oldest and most common form of discipline, it certainly is not the most effective. In fact, corporal punishment can be physically, emotionally, and cognitively damaging. Spanking can actually increase aggression in children as this form of coping becomes legitimized. Additionally, it has been noted that spanking can lead to an increase in a child’s acting out behaviors and challenges in school. The use of spanking provides a temporary release of anger for the parent and for the time being, terminates the undesired behavior. However, this “consequence” does not eliminate the undesired behavior long term, but instead installs a sense of fear, hostility, and lack of trust in the parental figure.

To better eliminate undesired behaviors while maintaining trust in the parent-child relationship, the parent should adopt a more communicative and calm approach to rectifying negative behavior.

The Most Effective Way to Discipline:

  1. Recognize your feelings about what is happening. If the parent is angry, the response willThe Psychological Effects of Spanking  and the Most Effective Way to Discipline be angry. Engage in deep breathing and step away from the situation, if possible, to calm down. If you cannot step away, simply close your eyes and count backwards from 10 before approaching your child to resolve the conflict.
  1. Remove your child from the scene of the crime and discuss what was incorrect or non-preferred. Explain why the action was inappropriate, unsafe, etc.
  1. Have the child re-enter the situation and implement the discussed correct behavior in the triggering environment to learn how to effectively solve the presented problem.
  1. Depending on the nature of the situation, the use of a time out or loss of privilege can serve to cease the negative behavior.
  1. If there is continued implementation of negative behaviors, consider the use of a motivational incentive program to track progress with challenging behaviors. The use of positive reinforcement to reward good behaviors can more effectively eliminate undesired behaviors.

Teaching kids what was wrong and what is expected to be right does more for a child than spanking as it outlines for the child what they can do differently. Having them re-do behavior is the learned experience that can help the child translate the current experience to future similar situations to truly eradicate negative behavior.

Click here for more tips on using reinforcement and punishment at home.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

time outs done right

Time-Outs: Discipline Done Right

Many parents express concern that their time-out strategies do not work.  However, when implemented appropriately, time-outs can be a useful tool for managing problematic behavior in children.  Instead of a time-out being a punishment, it can be viewed as a means to teach children how to “take a break” from a situation in order to self-regulate and calm their bodies and thoughts.  Time-outs can be an effective discipline technique when done right.

Try implementing these tips for effective time-outs:

  • Give your child a warning for non-physical behaviors (e.g., yelling) that warrant a time-out. time outs done rightCounting to three can be an effective means to teach children that they are displaying inappropriate behaviors which will lead to a time-out if they choose to continue.  For physically aggressive behaviors, children should be immediately sent to time-out.
  • Location, location, location. Time-out should involve a child being placed in a chair facing a wall, preferably in a room that limits distractions. Parents will often place children in their rooms which can be fun and counterproductive. In the world of time-out, boring is better!
  • Do not provide any social attention such as eye-contact or verbal remarks when the child is in time-out.
  • But my child will not stay in the time-out chair! At times, parents may need to prompt their children to stay seated. This could involve physically redirecting your child to the time-out chair, or standing in front of their chair similarly to a guard.  Remember, do not provide any social attention when your child is in time-out.
  • Use a timer. Set a timer somewhere within the child’s view, but not within their reach. A good rule of thumb is to use your child’s age to determine the number of minutes for the timer to be set (5 years would be 5 minutes).  However, the time-out period can be brief, as long as the child is calm and not exhibiting any negative behaviors.  The key is that children do not need to stay in time-out the entire time. This will teach your child that it is up to them to determine that they are relaxed, ready, and able to reintegrate into their previous setting.  If your child continues to display tantrum behaviors after the timer is up, re-set the timer for the same amount of time and tell your child, “Oh, it seems like you are still not ready to leave your time-out chair. We need to set it for another 5 minutes.”
  • Once time-out is finished, your child should be instructed to engage in a remediation behavior (e.g., clean up toys previously thrown), or prompted to show some type of pro-social behavior toward the person target of their aggression (e.g., hand shake, a hug, saying “Sorry”).

Extra Food For Thought in using Time-Outs:

  • Think of alternative behaviors to teach. Underlying all problem behaviors is a function.  If triggers have been identified for your child’s misbehavior, teach them adaptive ways of obtaining what they want.
  • Catch them when they are good! Kids love attention, so make every effort to praise them when they behave appropriately. We want your children to learn that you are like a light switch that turns on for good behaviors, but off for bad behaviors.

Click here to read more about positive v. negative punishment.






a beginning babysitters guide-discipline basics

A Beginning Babysitter’s Guide – Discipline Basics

Discipline. Uh oh! Not the D word! Discipline is one of my least favorite parts of babysitting. It is not pleasant for you or the kid, but sometimes it is necessary. Luckily I’ve found some great ways to handle discipline and even prevent the need for it in many cases.  Hopefully these discipline basics will help you out.

 Discipline Basics for Babysitters-Prevention:

  • Prevention is key as you may have noticed from my other blogs, I am all about being proactive anda beginning babysitters guide-discipline basics prepared. Many people don’t realize how much they can do to prevent bad behavior and the need for discipline. Surprisingly there is actually a LOT you can do to help.
  • Energy – It’s a fact of life. Little kids have lots of energy…. And they need to let that energy out. Sometimes lazy or tired people try to force these kids to sit still and watch TV or play by themselves, but the kid just can’t seem to do it. Then they get in trouble, throw a fit, and continue to act up for hours on end! This can all be prevented.

Look for things they already have around their house to play with and get energy out. Maybe you’ll even hit the jackpot like I have with the  3-year old I batmansit right now (he’s “too old” to babysit, and he calls himself batman all the time – so yes, I batmansit). His parents bought him his own mini bounce house and put it in his basement play room. I love that thing! He gets to bounce his little butt off and let all of his energy out. I told them it was a present for me just as much as him! Yes, the kids you sit for most likely will not have their own private jump-jump, but look around and get creative. Start a game of Simon Says or Monkey See Monkey Do or better yet take them outside and let them run!

  • Attention – Many times kids act up as a plea for attention. Sometimes it can be difficult when sitting for a baby with an older sibling. The baby requires lots of time and attention, but the older sibling kind of gets the shaft. Get the older sibling involved in something you’re doing with the baby, talk to and play games with him while you hold the baby, and focus 100% on them once the baby goes to sleep. Just that little bit of attention can prevent meltdowns later.
  • Communicate – A lot of problems can be prevented if you communicate in advance with the kid about what is going to happen. If you let them know “we’re going to go to bed in about an hour” etc… it helps ease them into it.

I have another great example with my little “batman”– usually at bedtime he asks about his parents, and I remind him that “Mommy and Daddy will be here when you wake up.” He knows that to be true, but still likes a little extra re-assurance. However, we are about to have a big change. This weekend I will be watching him two days in a row with an overnight stay. This is a big step for him, so I’ve been slowly working him up to it. We’ve talked about it for the past 3 or 4 weeks, so he knows what is coming and has now accepted it. He’s even excited now about our upcoming “pajama party.” This little bit of communication has probably saved me a long day and night of tears!

What to Do When Prevention Does Not Work:

Although preparation is a life-saver, it is not going to prevent every problem. Sometimes, you will ultimately have to discipline your “little monster.” Here are the basics steps to effectively handle the task.

  1. Talk to their parents in advance – find out what the house rules are before the parents leave, and how they discipline bad behavior (This way you never have to guess at whether a kid’s statement about how “Mommy or Daddy always let me do this.” is true or not.)
  2. Give a warning – In a calm yet firm tone explain to them that if the behavior continues, he will receive “______” as a consequence.
  3. Stick to your guns – If you warn the child and he continues then you have to follow through or he will walk all over you forever – he now owns you! 😉
  4. Take a deep breath and don’t make it personal – Sometimes a kid can try your last nerve, and it can make you want to lose it. You should never take out your anger on a kid. Take a deep breath and administer the discipline with a clear head.
  5. Remove the problem source – If he abuses something he loses it. End of story. If he is hitting a sibling with something, or blasting the TV too loud, then simply take access to the item away and explain thathe can have it back when he begins to behave.
  6. Time out is a sitter’s best friend – Time outs are really the easiest method, and most parents will approve of this tactic. Calmly sit the child in a quiet area and tell him to stay there. Set a timer – a good rule of thumb is one minute for every year of the child’s age (2 minutes for 2 year old, 5 minutes for a 5 year old etc…) When the timer goes off, go over to the child, make eye contact, and calmly remind him why he was in a time out. then explain what you expect from him in the future, ask if he is ready to go play nicely. This might also be a good time for a hug.

There you have it! Hopefully, discipline doesn’t seem to be quite so scary now. Stay tuned for more upcoming blogs with more great tips and tricks of the babysitting trade trade!

For more information on getting started babysitting, click here.

 



Why saying no is a good thing

5 Reasons Saying “No” To Your Kids Is A Good Thing

Parents have a hard time saying no to their children because they want their child to be happy and to have positive experiences. They are concerned that if they say no, it will lead to unhappiness, defiance, a lack of creativity and a decreased sense of self-esteem in their child. Today, more than ever, it is important for parents to be comfortable with saying “no” to their children. Saying no without frustration/anger and following through with what you say let’s a child know that you care about them and that you want them to be safe. In other words, saying no is a good thing.

Here are five additional reasons why saying no to your child can be a good thing:Why saying no is a good thing

  1. Children want you to say no. They actually like structure and limit setting by parents and typically respond better to parents that can provide consistency and who hold them accountable for their actions.
  2. Saying “no” provides teachable moments. It allows your child to learn that they cannot always have what they want.
  3. It teaches children to delay gratification and to learn how to be patient.
  4. It teaches them to learn how to handle disappointment and helps them to learn how to work through disappointment through problem solving other solutions.
  5. It also teaches them how to respect their parents and other adults, as well as allows them to prepare for being in the “real world.”

Need help getting your child’s behavior under control? Click here to read a blog on 1-2-3 Magic Behavioral Principles!

How to Discipline a Special Needs Child (When He Doesn’t Understand)

Disciplining a child with special needs is more challenging than disciplining a typically developing child. That said, it is just as important,how to discipline a special needs child if not more so, to encourage appropriate behavior for your child. It is essential to hold special needs children to the same expectations as their typically developing peers as often as possible.
Discipline is not a punishment. It is a tool to be used to promote positive behaviors and decrease negative behaviors. It should be used as a means to encourage progress of the child across all aspects of their development. And while all children are different and demonstrate different behaviors as they grow, there are a few discipline techniques that are applicable for all special needs children.

Discipline Strategies for Special Needs Children:

1. Praise good behaviors, ignore bad behaviors (if possible). Cause and effect is one of the earliest concepts a child learns. If he learns that you give attention (even if it is to reprimand or physically stop him) when he reacts inappropriately, he will continue the poor behavior seeking the negative attention. Rather, it is beneficial to teach him that the good behaviors will result in the attention and praise he seeks. Read more

How to Set Boundaries for Your Baby Without Saying “No”

Parents often ask when they should start teaching babies the word “no.”  In answering this question, it is important tobaby proofing consider things from the baby’s point of view.  Babies from 6 months to 2 years like to chew on things, bang things, take things apart, touch things, and put things in their mouths.  Babies and toddlers use these methods to learn about their world.  While it is tempting to use the word “no” to discipline your baby, there are more effective ways to keep him, and your home, safe.

Tips for Keeping Your Baby Safe Without Using the Word “No”:

  • Baby-proof your home so that your child can be free to touch, crawl or walk around without getting into trouble.
  • Use safety gates.
  • Keep medicines, cleaning supplies, and other dangerous items out of reach of your child or stored in locked cupboards. Read more

Keeping Caregivers on the Same Page

As a parent you want what is best for your children, so you teach them right from wrong, to have manners, and listen to adults. With that comes discipline; with discipline comes the need for consistency. It can be frustrating when other caregivers in your child’s life do not follow the samebabysitter lines of discipline you do. To help bridge the gap between yourself and other caregivers, it is important to open the lines of communication:

4 Steps To Keep Your Caregivers On The Same Page:

  1. Be clear and let them know ‘WHY’ you are doing what you are doing.  If they have an understanding of how their actions effect the child, they may think twice about foregoing the timeout.
  2. When you are together, model for them the way you would like the discipline to be implemented.
  3. Share with them articles, books, etc. that you are reading to help them understand your viewpoint.
  4. If behavior charts are in place, teach other caregivers how to implement them. It may also be helpful to write out simple rules and place them next to the chart.

If inconsistency is inevitable, and your children are on a visit or long stay without you, do not fret. When they return home, go back to what you were doing before.

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