The Building Blocks of Behavior Management

The Building Blocks of Behavior Management

The Building Blocks of Behavior Management 1500 1000 Dr. Menon

Recently, I had the opportunity to be on a panel with 3 other talented professionals in a webinar entitled Building Healthy Routines: Helping Students Help Themselves. We shared to parents tips on how to practice and reinforce new habits over the summer break. With an audience of 800+ people (yikes!), preparing for this webinar gave me a chance to reflect on the recurring themes and questions that I hear in therapy sessions. I work with people across a range of ages–from the late elementary years through adulthood. There are plenty of common frustrations that come up: sticking to a routine, communication, time management and the M word… motivation!

The Building Blocks of Behavior Management

There are three key areas to focus on when we talk about the building blocks of behavior management. This is true for children, adolescents, and even when you are trying to manage your own responses to situations. In the webinar, I work through some examples of each element.

1) The language we use

Choosing the right words and nonverbal clues to show how you feel and ask for what you need is the ultimate form of self-care. It’s easier to get the results you want if you are precise and can paint a picture with your words. If the outcome doesn’t meet your expectations, you can, nevertheless, move towards accepting that result a little better.

 2) The feelings we express

Feelings are contagious! If we manage our own feelings in a situation, we can reflect that out into our space and the people around us. It’s more than being a role model. Think of it as sharing your calm, rather than adding some logs to an already growing fire of temper and irritability.

3) Looking under the surface of the behavior

Digging a little deeper to find out why a certain behavior or pattern is happening or why a situation is being avoided (e.g., showering) is also an important step towards understanding the situation. This is the time to seek the help of a professional. With their training in behavior, motivational strategies, and guiding conversations, a psychologist can be a great ally. They can help you get out of ruts and unproductive patterns and on the road to better solutions.

The Responsibility Continuum

In the webinar, I also talk about the process of nurturing someone from early childhood through young adulthood. I organize my thinking along what I call “The Responsibility Continuum”. At each stage, both the child and the parent have a role to play and the role evolves over time. When one or the other isn’t doing their part in sync with the continuum, that’s when frictions and tensions get stronger. It’s another opportunity to reach out to a behavior specialist. This can help ease the tension and reset those relationships on to a more satisfying, mutually acceptable path.

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I, along with the other panelists, shared some additional resources for motivating children to be more proactive about life, and I’m happy to share them with you here: