Thursday, May 21, 2009

The One Minute Behavior Modifier

Today, I'm reading Chapter 1 of The Only Three Discipline Strategies You Will Ever Need. This week, I am getting back in touch with the parent I intend to be. I wrote about it here (and there is info about a giveaway- don't miss it). Yesterday, I read through the introduction and started with my basic principles on discipline vs punishment. The One-Minute Behavior Modifier is an immediate reaction plan when an undesired behavior occurs. The first step is planning. You have to know how you are going to handle it when it happens! Step 1 Choose a behavior Step 2 Give the behavior a name Step 3 Determine the reason why the behavior you want to eliminate is inappropriate Step 4 Determine a behavior that is appropriate to replace the undesirable one Step 5 Prepare a verbal statement to use when the undesirable behavior occurs First planning step is easy. Choose a behavior. Whining, teasing, hitting, crying, lying, etc. Second step is to name it. If you can name it, you can tame it. You need to make certain that the words you choose demonstrate the exact behavior and not a general inference. For example, "back talk" is specific but "being rude" carries a lot of inference. The book has a short list of inferences vs behaviors as examples. The inferences basically sound like name calling- rude, selfish, mean, etc. In fact, the book says that using these inferences are judgments- they infer something about the character of the person based on the behavior rather than calling out the specific behavior. The behaviors are specific to what the child is choosing to do- use put downs, grabbing handfuls of snack, hitting. Step 3- You need to have a reason why the behavior is unacceptable. Use of the word "because" provides influence as the child understands the purpose for your correction. And since you are telling them why this specific behavior is inappropriate, you should also give an alternate behavior that is ok (step 4). I think of when Teagan used her first cuss word. I explained that the words she had chosen could be hurtful to some people and we came up with ok words to use when frustrated (Blast it- and she corrects us to this day if we don't use Blast it when we are frustrated... even if we don't cuss or anything... she insists on us saying blast it.). The main idea here is that we want to do more than stop the inappropriate behavior. We want to teach them what is acceptable. Step 5 is the longest in the planning stage. Preparing that verbal response statement. I can tell you from experience- it works. I've used it on different kids of different ages and it really does work. First, name the child and the behavior. "Teagan, that's having a meltdown." The only thing this statement does is identify the behavior. There is no instruction or judgement. The next piece of identifying the behavior is a specific sentence. Choose one or the other but don't use both at the same time. "We don't do that in this family" or "That doesn't work with me." So my modifier, so far, would sound like this... "Teagan, that's having a meltdown. That doesn't work with me..." Next comes that reason you worked on earlier! That doesn't work with me because... I have to admit that this is often the hardest part for me. Seems like it should be easy. But it is a challenge for me to not just fall into the "Because I said so... Because it's making me angry... Because you sound stupid..." line of thinking. Which is why the whole idea of planning is important- so I have my script ready. "Teagan, that's having a meltdown. That doesn't work with me because I can't understand what you need from me to help you." Next step... teach a new behavior. It's only fair that Teagan be told what would help me help her. What would get my attention in a positive way. What might possibly get her what she wants. "Teagan, that's having a meltdown. That doesn't work with me because I can't understand what you need from me to help you. What does work is to take a deep breath and use your words so I can understand you." The book provides a short form so you can even write out the behaviors you want to specifically address. The behaviors I want to change with Teagan include whining, pouting, meltdowns (crumpling to the floor and sobbing, weeping, etc), teasing. Name the child and behavior: Teagan, that is (whining, pouting, teasing). Statement one or two: Whining- That doesn't work with me. Pouting- that doesn't work with me. Teasing- We don't do that in this family. Because/reason: Whining- because I can't understand what you are asking for. Pouting- because I can't read your mind and know what you want. Teasing- because it hurts the other person's feelings. New behavior: Whining- Please use a normal voice. Pouting- Use your words. Teasing- Let's find a way that you and Zach can play together. After planning comes Implementation. 1. Become a first-time responder. You have to intervene and use the behavior modifier is it is going to work. If you let the behavior go... it becomes confusing as to when it is ok and when it isn't ok. This is where consistency is important. My kids deserve to know that there will be a response every time they choose a behavior. The good news is that this technique is designed to be easily used in any situation- church, home, outside, the grocery store, at a funeral, at the park, etc. 2. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Part of what makes this work is he learning process for the child. They are learning the name of this behavior you don't like. And they are learning what a better behavior choice would be. So you have to be right there, giving them that information as many times as they need it until it sinks in. 3. Act as if each time is the first time. You can't go back and change the past so why keep bringing it up? "I've told you three time!" "How many times do I have to tell you?" Those statements keep a focus on past behavior rather than on the right now behavior. The book goes on to give a lot of hands on examples- a variety of behaviors and ages and responses and situations. Do some planning. Test it out. See how it feels. And here's something else I think about. I am sometimes challenged to find the right words to explain why a behavior is unacceptable. I am sometimes challenged to find the words to describe what behavior I want to see instead. If it is difficult for me, with my age, wisdom, and experience, to find simple words for what is going on... imagine how difficult it is for the child who is in the throes of the emotions of the situation and is grasping for responses. The planning I do to prepare my statements... leads to statements, instructions, that my kids can use to plan their own response to things when they are faced with it again. Let's plan together, let's implement together, and let's share the results!


Alison said...

Well, blast it, that was much more interesting than I thought it would be! I have a coworker who's freaking out b/c her 13-year old son is getting touchy-feely with his girlfriend. (It's funny; she's always asking me, the childless one, for advice!) I didn't think about the "provide an alternative behavior" aspect.

I'll definitely mention some of this to her, and if she seems receptive, point her toward the book.

One question: How do I tell Rosie that chasing rabbits is unacceptable when she's half a block away? ;)

Mrs4444 said...

That sounds like a terrific plan of action. Did they also say, "Be sure to get a good night's sleep"? :) I also think positive reinforcement works great. For example, "Teagan, when you got upset just now, you used a "feeling word." That shows that you know how to express yourself. How does it feel to be such a strong girl?"

What do you think?

Eternal Lizdom said...

I do like that, Mrs4444! We give Teagan a lot of positive reinforcement. Zach, too. I am a believer in "catch them being good!"

Flartus- so glad I could help!! If you use this on Rosie and it works... you could realy capitalize, I bet!