Parents, Be Pro-Active, Not Re-Active

Kid Behaviour 3

It is easier and better, to be proactive to a behaviour (i.e., preventing it from happening) versus being reactive to the behaviour (i.e., responding to it). This doesn’t mean you have to walk on eggshells around your child to avoid problem behaviours, but rather there are some strategies you can put into place so you don’t even get to the point where situations that trigger the behaviour occurs.

Have a consistent and predictable daily routine: Children thrive on predictability and routine and when they know what is happening next and what is expected of them, the better their behaviour will often be. Do things in the same order every day, even weekends. Understanding that everyday may be different, plan that after breakfast and getting ready it may be a time that you go out, whether it’s the park, mall, or to run errands, it’s a “going out of the house time”.

Let your children know when there is a change to the routine, no matter how young they are. I always told my daughter what we were going to do that day whether I thought she understood me or not. How would you like it if it was your time to sit and watch TV and suddenly someone is standing over you telling you to put your shoes on, you’re going out. Don’t think you would.

Give your children transition warnings. Give a 5 minute warning that what they are doing is going to end. Give a 1 minutes warning to prepare them for a transition. It doesn’t matter if they don’t understand time, they will learn that 5 minutes means soon and 1 minute means really soon. Or, you can give them a “turn warning”, 5 more swings then we leave the park. Don’t think you would like it if you were reading a book and someone yanks it out of your hand and says “you’re done, now go brush your teeth”.


Tell your children what to do rather than what not to do. Set the expectations at the start of an activity. “I want you to hold my hand while we are in the store”

Set an example. This is not a case of “do as I say, not as I do”, but rather “do as I do”. Take a look at your own behaviour and see if they may be learning it from their environment. Are your children yellers? Is there other yelling going on in the home? Are your children physically fighting with each other? How much are they exposed to violent TV or video games? Be objective, no-one’s judging here.

Make modifications to your environment to avoid certain behaviours. Are your children constantly asking for cookies? Are they in sight on your counter? By putting the food out of sight may eliminate their temptation. Do your children jump on the couch? Consider having a mini trampoline so they can jump on that instead (with supervision, of course!). Have family, or household rules so the children know what the parameters for their behaviours are and stick to it!

As I said before, it is better to be proactive instead of being reactive to any problem behaviors, but being proactive may take a little bit more time and energy on your part but it is well worth it in the end. If you’re struggling with certain behaviours, write to us, we will do our very best to help.

Written by: Jennifer Frigault, M.ADS (ABA), BCBA


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