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One could sing a silly jingle "Making positive behavior change is as easy as A-B-C", but the reality is it isn't always easy.
Jess has been studying and working in the field of Applied Behaviour Analysis for over two decades and she is still learning to this day. As a professional, she has the eye to quickly identify what to do to get into the direction of making positive behavior changes.
As a parent, nobody gave you a guide on "How to manage behaviours" and you most likely didn't complete a University degree to know how to be the best parent for your child.
This is why Jess loves sharing the basics of behaviours and how she works with people so they can themselves create positive behavior change. In the last three weeks, Jess delivered a workshop on Behaviours Basics that involved understanding why behaviors occur, and how to reduce and prevent tantrums. She started in-person in Banff, followed by Canmore and finished with a live webinar .
The turnout has been wonderful and helpful in guiding Emu Ed towards preparing content that will help address the real challenges that you face as a parent.
Jess ALWAYS start her workshop with a very clear statement:
"To help our children change their behaviour, we must first change our own behaviour!"
Once this is clear, she pursued explaining why behaviours occur and how the environment influences them. Using the A - B - C method.
A - Antecedent: What happened right before the behavior?
B - Behaviour: What is the behavior?
C - Consequence: What happens after the behavior?
Understanding the various ways that reinforcement impacts our behavior was important to discuss. Every behavior that is repeated has been reinforced in one way or another. For example, we continue to use an umbrella outside when it is raining to avoid getting wet. Our umbrella-using behavior has been reinforced.
If a behavior produces the outcome we want, it will stay the same or increase in the future. Reinforcement has occurred.
Jess takes the time to explain the role of reinforcers and how to use them. Contrived reinforcers should always faded away as we ultimately want children to engage in positive behavior because of social or naturally occurring reinforcers, or internal 'motivation'.
Then, the rubber met the road!
Jess tackles the theme why most parents attended the workshop: Reducing and preventing tantrums! By following the four steps below, a parent will eventually be able to reduce and prevent tantrums. It will not be easy. It will not happen overnight. But with practice and consistency you can stop meltdowns!
In this main section of the workshop, Jess highlight the importance of identifying the function of a behavior first. Every behavior is either to GAIN or ESCAPE as explained in the previous blog entry Function Comes First.
Once the function is identified, this helps us to understand WHY a behavior is occurring. Next, Jess explores some of the numerous proactive strategies. You can find more detailed examples in the previous blog post: How to prevent difficult behaviours
A big emphasis is given to "Pre-teaching". Very often children have challenging behaviours because they don't know how to communicate adequately their needs or have been taught the proper way to respond and interact. There are a lot of skills that can be taught through fun games and by starting with small easy skills. If you want to learn more about pre-teaching, keep an eye open as a recording of the workshop will be published in March. We will also be starting our 4 week "Deep Dive and Apply" program. Click here for more info: https://www.emued.com/product-page/deep-dive-apply.
Finally, once we know the antecedent of a behaviour, its function and the appropriate skill to replace it with, we are ALMOST ready to RESPOND. Jess suggest people to use the S.T.O.P. method:
Take a breath
To wrap up the workshop, Jess leaves the audience with the importance of connecting with their children, to follow their lead, play their games and have fun.
Throughout the workshop parents and caregivers were guided to think apply the concepts to their own situation and come up with some practical strategies to trial. This way, participants are actually learning how to start making positive changes and can take actions immediately when they come back home.
Personally, I am more likely to engage in an activity when I understand why it should be done. Emu Education wants to educate parents on behaviours and why they might be required to capture data, practice simple activities with their child or teach them new skills. Best results are obtained when parents have a good understanding of why behaviours occur and reinforcers without having completed a University degree!!!
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