Taking a Beat
Mindfully Responding to Challenging Behavior
When children have communication deficits, often you’ll see them engage in other behaviors to get their needs met. These behaviors can be unsafe or not appropriate, and often referred to as “challenging behaviors” or “problem behaviors.” When thinking about how to respond to these challenging behaviors, we want to respond in a way that isn’t going to escalate the child and their behavior, or result in the behavior becoming more likely to continue happening in the future. One easy way to avoid this from happening is to take a beat before responding and keep a few things in mind.
1. Take a beat
When challenging behaviors occur it can be frustrating and emotional for everyone involved. It’s important to take a second to prepare yourself and make sure your response is careful and communicates empathy to your child, rather than just communicating whatever emotion you may be feeling in the moment. This might look like taking a deep breath, unclenching your fists, or standing up to give your child and yourself some space.
2. Remember behavior is communication
Before responding, it’s important to keep in mind that all behavior is communication. After taking a beat, make sure you approach any response to a challenging behavior by asking yourself: what is my child communicating to me right now?
3. Remember your ABC’s
A helpful tool for determining what your child’s behavior is communicating to you is to remember your ABCs: antecedents, behaviors, consequences. Think about what happened right before the challenging behavior occurred (antecedent,) and what happened right after (consequence,) to tell you what your child may be trying to tell you.
For more on ABCs see our blog post here!
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