A B C’s of Behavior…or Behaviour

building-blocks1The Simple ABCs of Behavior…Behaviour

We may not agree  with the English on how to spell the word behavior, but I’m sure the Brits would agree that in any language, behavior is an issue for many parents. (Did I just say that the Queen’s English is another  language? Perhaps!)

PART 1 … Article by Rhory Lamboy and Susan Baukus

“Always end the name of your child with a vowel, so that when you yell the name will carry.” 
― Bill Cosby

Gotta love Bill. He knows kids.

This is my first “Working Mother” post. I’m excited to share information with you and learn from you as well. While I will share creative projects that make learning fun, first I have to talk about behavior. (“Oh no, don’t go there! That’s a worse topic than root canal.”) I promise I’ll tell you about it in a way that won’t be like going to the dentist.

When I give workshops for parents and teachers, behavior is usually the first topic that pops up, in some form or another.

“Rhory, I love my kids, but they just won’t do their homework, I can’t get them to brush their teeth, they talk back to me. We’ve tried everything!” When these are the things you’re dealing with, no work gets done. Without positive behavior, there’s nothing. No teaching is going on at home or at school.  No homework is being completed, no teeth are being brushed, and that’s the least of it.

Believe me, addressing your kids’ behavior problems doesn’t have to be like a dentist’s drill. It can be very natural. Hear me out.

I’m no disciplinarian. I am not here to make you feel guilty. You aren’t. We all do the best we can with what we have at the time.

We need to keep our sense of humor about our kids. Kids are going to test us and attempt to manipulate us at all turns, no matter how good their behavior might otherwise be. Believe me, after being a special education teacher for over twenty years, I’ve seen and heard it all.  When I started working with children at Westmark School in 1994, I learned quickly about the A B C’s of behavior.

So it’s a subject that must be addressed for the sake of our sanity and, quite frankly, for the sake of our kids’ sanity too. Possibility is around the corner.

“We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.” Phyllis Diller

We human beings are creatures full of judgments. I’ve learned to watch the judging voice inside myself, because it’s so damaging to children. Just think back to one of those moments in your life when your teacher was far from your best friend.

I know my judgments are based on my expectations as a teacher, aunt, and member of the human community. “Why didn’t that kid say thank you when I opened the door for him. No manners.” We go off on them without realizing it. “Young man, do you know the magic word when someone opens the door for you?” It’s okay to say that, but we need to ask ourselves what our motives are. Sometimes it just seems like these kids are out to get us. Guess what? They think the same thing about us — that we are out to get them. And sometimes they are right!

Without a behavior plan of some kind in place, there is nothing. Children can’t do their homework, get to bed on time, brush their hair, or just chill. They need parameters.

So what is this thing called behavior?

Simply put, behavior is communication. You don’t need words to communicate.

Simple. Or is it?

What is your child trying to tell you when:

  • He procrastinates…
  • He says he’s bored
  • The teachers say he’s distracted
  • He says, “Ma, I’m tired.”
  • “I don’t know,” is his standard answer.

Let’s face it, they are out to get us. Right? It’s a course they take. Womb 101.

How to Irritate Your Parents  From Your Very Beginnings
Know that our kids’ behaviors, most of the time, are not meant to irritate us. That is only our interpretation.

Their behaviors are communicating a message that we just haven’t figured out yet. But have faith. We can do this.

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

― Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

There are three components to a behavior.

The Antecedant — What came before the behavior happened.
For example: Johnny took Sally’s toy.

The Behavior itself – What someone did or does.
It may be desirable or undesirable.
For example: Sally hits Johnny.

A Consequence – What results from the action of a behavior.
A consequence isn’t necessarily a punishment.
For example: Sally gets her toy back.

What Johnny has learned is that Sally will hit him if he takes her toy.
What Sally has learned is that hitting gets results.

If this sounds familiar just fill out this chart a few times this week

A: Antecedent
What happened
before the bad behavior, the meltdown, or the thing that made you frustrated?

B: Behavior
What happened? What was the behavior that your child displayed?

C: Consequence
What did you do in reaction to the behavior?
A consequence  can be positive or negative.

A close friend of mine was the case manager for a third-grade boy with high functioning autism. The boy’s teacher would complain all the time about his inattentiveness. My friend asked the teacher if there was a pattern to his behavior.  “Is there a time of the day that is worse than any other?” she asked “Does something spark the behavior?  Have you tried a reward system?” According to the teacher, there was no method to his bad behavior. He did it all the time. “He just can’t and won’t behave!”  Finally, my friend asked the teacher to fill out one of the A B C charts. (See chart above). When all was said and done, it turned out that most of the inattentive behaviors happened when the boy was sitting in the back of the room near the window, where the fish tank was. The filter from the tank made a constant whirring noise. This set him off. Mystery solved. The mysteries aren’t always that simple.

“What to do now?”

Fill out the chart a few times this week. Just do your best. It will amaze you. Take your time. You can’t make any mistakes. Then let’s get together next week for an A B C email chat and you’ll see that you are doing great job.

Email me at: TheSchoolWorkGuru@gmail.com

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