SETTING UP A BEHAVIOR PROGRAM THAT WORKS
How many times have you rewarded your child for something done well and punished for what inappropriate behavior? How many times have you set up a behavior program that didn’t work? Here we will list Barkley’s eight ways to set up a behavioral system that your child will respond to. You can read more about it in Taking Charge of ADHD by Russell Barkley, Guilford Press.
1. Learn to pay positive attention to your child.
Select a special time each day (15-20 minutes) when you and your child Play together. Let your child take the lead and follow along. Ask questions but give no commands. Narrate the play. Praise your child’s behavior.
2. Use your powerful attention to gain compliance.
Catch your child being good! We easily get into negative cycles with our children and have difficulty focusing on what they do well. Praise your child as much as you can! "You did a nice job controlling yourself just now when you didn’t hit your sister. Well done!"
3. Give more effective commands.
Never give a command you do not intend to follow though on. Mean it! Don’t give to many commands at once. Make sure you have your child’s attention and ask your child to repeat it. Do not present the command as a question or a favor. "Honey, would you pick up your toys for me?" Better: "Pick up your toys now!"
4. Teach your child not to interrupt your activities.
Prior to talking on the phone or some other activity, give your child a two-part command. The first part teels your child what to do when you are busy and the second part tells your child not to bother you. Make it something of interest for your child. Example: "I have to take this phone call. While I am on the phone, go in the family room and watch TV and don’t bother me." Periodically, go in and praise your child for their appropriate behavior and for not bothering you.
5. Set up a home token system.
What makes a behavior system work is a clear program that rewards appropriate behaviors you choose to reward with kid-specific rewards that you know they want. Develop the program with your child and plan to stick with it for at least two months.
6. Learn to punish misbehavior constructively.
After a behavior program is started (one to two weeks), introduce the notion of fines and time outs for inappropriate behavior and non compliance.
7. Expand your use of time-out.
In the original program, you use time-outs for a narrow set of behaviors. Once those behaviors begin to diminish, you can expand your use of time-outs to other behaviors you want to reduce.
8. Learn to manage your child in public places.
The rules for public places are these: 1) Set up the rules before you enter. 2) Right before you enter, set up an incentive for compliance. (Extra points, extra time at the playground, etc.) 3) Set up the punishment for non compliance. (Time-outs, return to the car, etc.)
This plan works best for children between the ages of 2 and 10-12.