AIM: a child-centered approach you can try at home

AIM - accept, identify, move

AIM: a child-centered approach you can try at home

What is AIM?

AIM stands for Accept, Identify, Move. AIM is a form of clinical behavior analysis that combines ABA, mindfulness, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT.) AIM helps individuals learn to accept physical and psychological experiences in order to participate more fully in the meaningful parts of life.

How can you apply AIM at home? 

The first part of AIM involves mindfulness. You can incorporate mindfulness at home by practicing mindful minutes of breathing, focusing on elements within the environment, or doing a few minutes of yoga. 

The second part is ACT, which increases psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility is established through six core ACT processes. Each of these areas are conceptualized as a positive psychological skill.

Below you can find each of the six core processes and how to address and build these skills at home. 

  1. Present moment awareness: Children may seem predisposed to fixate on certain stimuli in the environment, often daydream and think about what they are doing later. What to try:
    • Focus: Notice when they are not present and bring them  back to attending to stimuli in the current environment 
    • Focus: Have children notice when they are not present vs. present. 
  2. Self as context: Children may seem very sensitive to labels from themselves or others. Once they have labeled something, they may try to avoid certain situations. What to try:
    • Say: “You are more than your thoughts and behavior”
    • Focus: Distinguish child from child’s behavior
  3. Values:  Children may struggle to see the difference between items and values. Make values more concrete for children (i.e. having friends, getting to do X). What to try: 
    • Say: “What do you like and what is important” 
    • Focus: Differentiate values/things 
  4. Acceptance: Children may act as though impulsive choices may seem to be the only choice for behavior. What to try: 
    • Say: “It’s OK to be OK with good and bad”
    • Focus: Model and practice what it looks like then accept and move on.
  5. Committed action: Children generally do not like to lose, and failure is a cue for more failure. Also, children may need to learn to let go of past events in order to move forward. What to try: 
    • Say: “What are obstacles and how will we overcome them?”
    • Focus: Letting go of previous behavior so that it does not dictate future behavior. 
  6. Defusion: Children often become “obsessions” and children are not always able to discriminate truth from thought. What to try: 
    • Say: “Step back from your thoughts” 
    • Focus: Label thoughts and feelings as “I’m having a thought that…” 


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