Preventive Teaching

Help your child know how to behave in any and every situation.

Where to begin

This skill needs to taught during a neutral time BEFORE a situation arises.

1. Watch and understand the concepts taught in the video lesson.
2. Review the Activities and Games section and choose an activity or game that will fit your child. Choose a few if necessary.
3. Print out the steps for Preventive Teaching for easy reference.
4. Introduce the skill to your child by talking to them about it and doing the activity. Use the print out for easy reference.
5. Practice the steps to the skill as often as possible.
6. Review the activity with your child and talk about other instances where you can use the skill with them. Choose a specific situation where your child needs to learn a new behavior and practice that situation often.
7. Practice the skill regularly and whenever possible to incorporate it into your child’s everyday routine.

Suggestions for parents when teaching this skill

  • First, practice this skill using situations that are easy. Move to more difficult situations as your child becomes more adept at using the skill.
  • You may need to simplify what you want your child to do by focusing on one thing at a time.
  • Be aware of your child’s ability to tolerate certain situations and adjust it accordingly. If your child has a short attention span, focus on behaviors that fit the time they can tolerate until they master it. Once they can do that, incrementally increase the time.
  • Make the practice/role-play as real as possible. If possible, role-play in the locations where the new behavior is needed.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Practicing helps you and your child follow through easily.

We have some additional information about Preventive Teaching on our BLOG.

The following activities can be helpful in teaching the skill of Preventive Teaching.

Social stories


How to use this activity

Creating social stories is an effective way to help you and your children generalize their behaviors and allow you practice appropriate behaviors before situations escalate. In this example, Smarter Parent, explains how she created a social story to address tantrum behaviors with her children called, “Calm Body, Calm Voice.” The benefit of using this approach is that it allows parents to customize the stories to their situations.

Materials needed: paper, pen, photos, images

Bake a cake/cookies/brownies

Children have a hard time seeing the impact their actions have. This activity is to help children understand the correlations by showing them the impact with something they can visualize.

Tell your children you are going to bake something good to eat. Pull out vinegar, peanut butter, and soap and ask your children if they’d like a cake made out of those ingredients. Tell them that to bake a cake you need to do something specific using specific ingredients. Liken this to Preventive Teaching by telling them their behavior is just like baking a cake. There are things they need to do to get the desired outcome, otherwise they’re making a cake with ingredients that won’t make a cake.

Materials needed: cake mix, ingredients for cake mix, mixing bowl, measuring spoons, whisk, pan, and three or four ingredients that you would not put into a cake

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Parents and professionals explain their experiences with the skill of Preventive Teaching.​

Professionals support the concept of Preventive Teaching.




Preventive Teaching: We can play elephant doorsign

Use these door signs to help your children's friends know when your children can play.

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Preventive Teaching: We can play doorsign

Use these door signs to help your children's friends know when your children can play.

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Preventive Teaching: Ounce of Prevention

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Benjamin Franklin

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Preventive Teaching: Increase Self-Esteem Quote

Preventive Teaching can increase your children's self-esteem by showing them they can learn how to change their behavior and problems

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Preventive Teaching: Is About the Future Quote

Preventive Teaching is teaching your child what they will need to know for a future situation and practicing it in advance.

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Preventive Teaching: Best Way to Predict Future Quote

The best way to predict your future is to create it. Abraham Lincoln

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Steps of Preventive Teaching

Print out this form and use as a reference when practicing the skill of Preventive Teaching.

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Preventive Teaching: Finding a Meaningful Reason Worksheet

Use this worksheet to help you determine what is motivating to your child and how you can use that to prevent situations.

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