Redirecting behaviors…
By on March 30th, 2011

Redirecting Behaviors

Due to the traumatic past of an adopted child, tantrums and meltdowns are often a survival instinct.  These behaviors may have helped them survive in a less than optimal circumstance and are the only way they know to communicate their neglected needs.

It is important to remember to not take it personally when a child explodes.

One phrase that is really helpful is “Use your words, tell me what you need.”

Here is an acronym to help through these difficult moments… I.D.E.A.L.:

I – Immediately Respond – come to your child calmly.
D – Direct Eye Contact – is important that they know they have your undivided attention.
E – Efficient Response – use the least amount of firmness necessary and the least amount of words.
A – Actively Redirect – the child to better behavior.  Help the child with a “Re-do” of correct action or behavior.
L – Level Response at Behavior – not at your child.

Re-Do’s – “Let’s try that again.” Give children a chance to practice new behavior.  This allows them to succeed while demonstrating that you are there to help them.  You can say, “How can we say that respectfully?”  Using words that point to good character traits help inculcate the desired behaviors. If necessary demonstrate the “re-do” yourself first.

Always complete every correction on a positive note. Praise apologies and when they “re-do” the right behavior.  This gives the child the physical and emotional experience of substituting a successful behavior in place of misbehavior.  What a great way to cement a new lesson.  Each time a child does a Re-do and you praise their successful behavior they become more confident and their self esteem increases.

Explain The FUNCTION of things….

Use phrases like “hands are not for hitting, hands are for hugs and being kind” and “phones are not for throwing, phones are for speaking only”, can help children understand that each thing has specific purposes.

Choices & Compromises

Allow children to learn how to make choices.  Throughout life we are always making choices, choices for good and sometimes choices that have a bad result.  As a parent – we want to teach children to make good choices.  We give them many opportunities to choose between safe choices to help them learn how to make decisions.

Scenario: “I want a snack. Can I have cake?”
You can either have a banana (Hold up 1 finger) OR a granola bar (Hold up 2 fingers). Which do you CHOOSE?
Choices give a sense of control to the child, while keeping them in safe, healthy limits.

Once they make their choice, have them repeat it back—especially if there is a time limit involved–so they hear themselves commit to the expectations.

Holding up fingers is a visual aid that helps their brains to process faster.

The Sandwich

When offering choices, disappointing news, or correction, surround statements with 2 positive statements.

Positive: “Good job in asking permission” or “I know you love cake”.
Correction:  “You can’t do that now, but you can…. (offer choices)”
Positive: Good job choosing!  You can have cake after dinner.

“The Connected Child” by Dr. Karyn Purvis.

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