#51: Finding success with Preventive Teaching

by | Dec 16, 2019 | ADHD, ADHD Podcasts, Podcasts

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One of the best things parents can do in preparing kids for success is to use the behavior skill of Preventive Teaching. Preventive Teaching is just like it sounds. We are preventing problems by teaching what behavior we expect. Preventive Teaching is used to address both negative and positive behavior.

Preparing a child for new situations is very comforting to them as it signals to them that you are watching out for them and giving them what they need to handle unfamiliar situations. Children need help, especially when dealing with new situations. Using Preventive Teaching allows them not to be fearful and to find success.

Preventive Teaching is used to address all sorts of situations and outcomes.

Preventive Teaching focus on what you want your child to be doing instead of what you don’t want your child to be doing. It’s a positive behavior management system. When we point out all the “Don’ts,” we are focusing on the behavior we don’t want. If we want our child to stop throwing legos, telling them, “Don’t throw legos,” is not as effective as, “We need to keep the legos in our hands when playing with them.” While both do the same things, the latter focuses on the positive behavior that you want to be repeated.

Preventive Teaching is so powerful as it incorporates all the skills we’ve talked discussed. The skills on the Smarter Parenting website build on each other. This allows parents to address behavior effectively, whether that’s in the antecedent, behavior, or consequence stage.

Preventing problems takes less work than dealing with significant behavior issues.

Learn Preventive Teaching by visiting Smarter Parenting: https://www.smarterparenting.com/skills/preventive-teaching/

For full show notes visit: https://www.smarterparenting.com/adhd-parenting-podcast/

For free 15-minute ADHD Smarter Parenting Coaching mini-session sign-up here: https://club.smarterparenting.com/

Episode Transcript

This is episode 51. Let’s get started.

Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your parenting coach Siope Kinikini.

Hello my friends. How is everyone? I hope everybody’s doing great. I am doing fantastic and today, we will be talking about a skill that is super effective to helping you and your child prepare for the things that will happen.

The skill is called Preventive Teaching and there is a video lesson that is available on the Smarter Parenting website. If you have not seen that video, I highly suggest you jump over to the Smarter Parenting website after you listen to this podcast and check it out.

It’s a great video, a parent, her name is Dana that teaches it and she gives some examples and you’re able to see other parents using this particular skill. So Preventive Teaching, super effective.

Now, before we jump too far into it, I need to give a shout out to our sponsor, the Utah Youth Village so Smarter Parenting again is a division of the Utah Youth Village and we depend on them for providing this podcast and the website.

So if you’re feeling generous, please donate to the Utah Youth Village for Smarter Parenting. You can do that on the website, the Smarter Parenting website, we would appreciate any financial support.

We are a charity and so we depend on donations to keep us going. So let’s begin and let’s start talking about Preventive Teaching. This is one of those skills that you are going to see the integration of all the other skills that we have been talking about earlier in the earlier podcasts.

So in the last couple of weeks, we have been covering skills, parenting skills, and the way that they apply in your interaction with your children and this skill actually, you’re going to see all those elements come together in this skill, Preventive Teaching and it’s really powerful.

You’re going to start seeing them gel, like all those other concept. So if you haven’t listened to the other parenting skills that we’ve been discussing during the last couple of weeks, please jump back and listen to those podcast episodes as well because they are super important and they will help you use the skill more effect.

So let’s start talking first off on what Preventive Teaching is. So what is it? Well, Preventive Teaching is a way for parents to prepare children for what is to come. That’s basically it.

You are preparing children for what is to come. It’s preventive. We’re going to prevent meltdowns from happening. We are going to prevent a misbehavior from occurring. We are going to prevent whatever it may be from interrupting the flow of what your child needs to be doing or what they need to do.

Super, super important skill. Benjamin Franklin once said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What does that mean exactly? It means that if we do some small preventive things upfront, then we can prevent having to make major corrections later on.

Now you’re going to find that this is absolutely true, particularly in the field of medicine and physical health. If you’ve noticed, we actually as a nation here in the United States, and most doctors will tell you if we can prevent disease from happening, we actually are better often trying to cure it once it occurs.

This is for example with diabetes. That’s just an example. If we can prevent this from happening, then we don’t have to deal with all the medication and the complications that happen once we are diagnosed with it. Right? Cancer, smoking, I mean let’s prevent those things.

So this is a model that is very, very relevant in the medical field and it should also be relevant and it is relevant in the behavioral field in how you’re dealing with your child.

Now, I can already hear the parents saying because I’ve heard it a million times before where the parent is saying, “Well, I can’t. I don’t have a crystal ball. I cannot predict what my child is going to do.”

I understand that, I understand where you’re thinking, what you’re coming from. However, if you were listening to the previous podcast on the ABC’s of Behavior, we have already established that all behaviors exist because something happens before and then we have a consequence that comes after. Your antecedent. Your behavior. And your consequence.

Okay? So we’re tying it into that skill, that skill by the way, and all the skills that I’m talking about are available on the Smarter Parenting website. So jump back there for a review, but if you’ve been following along in the last couple of weeks, this is going to make absolute sense to you, absolute sense to you.

I can hear the parents saying, “Well, you don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know much. I was just out of control.” Okay, if we take some time to step back, we’re going to notice that there are patterns to specific behaviors.

Some of them are a little more difficult and nuance to realize. However, there is always something that occurs first and then the behavior happens and then we deal with a consequence after. Antecedent. Behavior. And consequence, ABC’s.

This skill requires you to really use that skill to evaluate the behavior of your child. What is happening with your child before, during the behavior, and then what happens afterwards that either diminishes that behavior or reinforces that behavior?

You got to do the ABC’s. You got to step back, you got to do some evaluation here. You as a parent, being able to interact with your child know a lot of information that other people don’t know. You know what they like, you know how they behave. You know because you’ve seen it, you’ve experienced it, and you’re there more than anybody else in stepping back and being able to evaluate all of that, you can start to come up with a plan on how can we address these behaviors using Preventive Teaching.

So again, Preventive Teaching is a way for us to anticipate what may be happening. What Preventive Teaching is is that it allows you to prepare your child for things that are to come. Now, why is this important? Why is it important for you to prepare your child for the things that are to come?

Well first, it offers your child a sense of security because they are not left reacting to everything. In fact, they are prepared for the things that will be happening. So, that sense of comfort actually is super helpful for a child struggling with any type of behavioral issue, right?

If we can make things predictable for them, then they tend to do a lot better. You’re going to find this is true for parents who work with children with behavioral issues, but you’re also going to find this very, very true in the field of people who work with children.

So like in group homes for example, they create an environment that is predictable. And because it’s predictable, it allows the child to pull down their defenses and not react as much and they’re able to process and work through things.

So setting up that expectation, what it also does for you is it gives you the opportunity, as a parent, to help your child through difficult situations and giving them a roadmap of what you want them to do.

So preventive, we are actually helping prevent things that may occur. I’m talking as though we’re only focusing on the negative behaviors. We actually can use Preventive Teaching for positive behaviors as well.

This goes both ways. So if you notice that your child is going to experience something and they’re unsure how to do that or you’re unsure about their success in being able to do that, then you can use Preventive Teaching as the skill to help them through that process.

So again, we are anticipating things that are going to be happening in your child’s life using this skill and we are going to teach to them what they should be doing. What your child should be doing and how they should behave.

Preventive Teaching, super, super important. In fact, one of the most foundational skills any parent should have and if you jump over and watch the video after listening to this podcast, you are going to see two wonderful examples of how Preventive Teaching can be used with parents and children in the video.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away about the video, but I think the video actually gives two great examples in the video skill lesson. You will see a mother working with her child who has a hard time in the store. He is like, and this is something that all parents who have children with ADHD struggle with, but she works with her child specifically on his behavior while they are shopping.

She gives some very clear instructions and she prepares him for it and then they go through it. So watch the video. I think it’s super effective. In the second example with an older child, and this is something that I’m doing with my child right now, we are actually preparing her to get a job and so I am using Preventive Teaching in order to help her prepare for a job interview.

So those two examples are fantastic and they’re inside that skill video so I highly suggest if you have not watched it, to go back and watch it and if you have watched it, go back and watch it again because it’s really good. It’s really, really good.

We have talked about what it is, we’ve talked about why it’s important in the sense of safety for your child, you’re giving them very specific things that they can work on and that they can do.

Those things are the foundational things that really help your child calm down and relax so they can approach the world in a more resourceful way. I’m going to go through the steps of Preventive Teaching because I think it’s important for you to know what the steps are.

So the steps are and you can print these out, they’re available on the Smarter Parenting website where you can find this video skill lesson. You can find a link where you can print out these steps. But what I want you to pay attention to is that in each of these steps, you are going to notice that there are elements of each of the other skills we have discussed previously. And I’ll point them out to you, but let me give you the steps first.

There are six steps to it. First, you’re going to say something positive about your child’s behavior or you’re going to express empathy about how they may be feeling. Depending on what’s happening.

Step two, you will describe how you want your child to act or how you want them to behave. Avoid telling your child what you don’t want them to do. This is the hardest step I think for most parents, avoiding telling them what not to do. You need to tell them what to do.

Step three, you need to give a meaningful reason to behave that way, the way that you want them to behave. Give them a meaningful reason that is meaningful for your child and not for yourself.

Step four, you are going to practice, Role-play the expected behavior. Now, this is the most important part of the Preventive Teaching because this is where, again, we start to ingrain that into their body muscle memory so they are used to how it feels and how it works and how it sounds and what it looks like, okay?

So you’re going to practice, you’re going to Role-play. Number five, you’re going to find positive, something positive about the Role-play that you did and you’re going to be able to make some corrections if they messed up in any way.

And so again, this is part of that muscle memory thing where if they’re doing it right, you’re going to praise them. If they’re doing it wrong, you will find what they’ve done right and praise that to encourage that to continue and then you can make some corrections along the way.

So Effective Praise which we’ve talked about and then the final step is to continue to practice. Once your child has done it correctly the way that you want them to do it, you’re going to practice this at least four times, three to four times, at least. Do it more if you possibly can.

I mean, really, there is no end to Role-play because the more you do it, the more it’s ingrained into what they need to be doing and the more it cements into their brains what they need to be doing.

So those are the six steps. I’m going to say them really fast because I kind of. My ADHD brain went out of control for a little bit, but let me say the steps again because I think repetition is super important.

So step one is to say something positive about your child’s behavior or express empathy about how they may be feeling about a specific situation. So you’re engaging with them and you’re communicating that you understand and that you are aware of what’s happening.

Step two, describe how you want your child to behave. Avoid telling your child what not to do. Step three, give your child a meaningful reason to behave the way that you described.

Now, this has to be important to your child. Step four, you’re going to practice it. You’re going to Role-play it and this is the most important part because this helps them know what to do.

Step five, you’re going to find something positive that they did while you Role-played it and then you’re going to make any corrections that need to be done. And step six, you will continually practice this at least three to four times.

With children who have ADHD, I highly recommend that you do this at least six times. That sounds like a lot, but the more they’re able to do this, the more successful they will be in being able to repeat this behavior.

Okay, good. I’m glad you got all the steps. What I really wanted to point out to you is I hope you can see that while we’re doing this, we are dealing with the ABC’s of Behavior, we’re dealing with observant and describe in step one and step two also we are describing him being very, very specific. We are using Role-playing. We are using Effective Communication in the way that we are interacting, making contact and being sure that we’re being understood or using Effective Praise in here.

I mean, can you see how all of these elements we’ve been talking about them as skills, but you can see them all merge in Preventive Teaching and helping a child really learn how to do things. Fantastic skill.

We have talked about anticipating what is to come. My suggestion for a lot of parents in doing this is look at your child, just take one day, but look at your child and how they behave throughout that one day.

Don’t go back and look at you know everything that’s existed before. I want you to choose one day and look at it. You’re going to evaluate where your child is throughout the day. Where are they in the morning, emotionally, behaviorally, what are they doing and then you’re going to go throughout just the one day.

During that one day, you will start to notice some peaks and valleys in behaviors or interactions with you. You evaluate where they peak and where the behaviors start to be more out of control and you will start to address those using preventive teaching.

In doing that throughout the day, what you’re doing is you’re preparing a game plan of this is how I’m going to approach this. You are going to start to notice patterns in your child’s behavior.

Children who are placed in a group home or in a home treatment home, this is usually what happens is there is a time of evaluation by the staff and the staff is looking for when are the moments that we need to address and teach new behavior because remember, we’re always teaching to our children. So what areas do we need to teach more to and more specifically to when they’re out of control?

Those are the questions that they’re asking and they’re exactly the questions that you should be asking when you’re addressing all of this. Once you realize what those areas are, you are going to be able to create a plan.

Now, I highly recommend that parents write down what they need to do in each of these steps. Write it down and review it, review it, review it and practice it with yourself so you can get a feel of how to do this skill because this is something that does require you to be able to remember the steps and to move through them effectively.

One word of caution and this is with step number two, and this is the reason that I recommend you write it out. Step number two which is describe how you want your child to act or behave and avoid telling them what not to do.

That tends to be the hardest step for a lot of parents because it’s easy to point out what you shouldn’t do, it’s a lot harder to point out what they should do, right? Think about it, when you’re making a correction, I hear this all the time. It’s like, “Don’t get up. Don’t hit your sister. Don’t.”

There’s a lot of don’ts in there, but again, if we go back to Effective Communication, if we go back to how we communicate to our child who are concrete thinkers, once we offer that suggestion, even though we’re telling them don’t, it actually creates that reality in their brain.

Take for example now, I’m going to say to you, “Don’t think of a pink polka dotted elephant.” I know where your mind went, your mind went and you imagined a pink polka dotted elephant, why? Because, even though we put the word don’t in front of that, our brain is wired to attach to what we hear.

I said don’t think of that, and yet, that’s what popped in your head. Hopefully, it was a fun looking elephant. One that is pleasant. I don’t know. Can you see how, what we say can be highly, highly dangerous if we are not careful in what we are explaining to our child?

We want to tell them exactly what to do so instead of, “Don’t throw the Lego.” It’s like, “Put it down.” That’s very specific. “Put it down. Put down the Lego.” That’s even more specific. “Put down the Lego. Take a deep breath. Count to 10 backwards. Take a deep breath in between each of those numbers.” That is actually giving them very specific instructions on what to do.

Now, once you figure out what they should be doing when they hit peaks and valleys, remember, you still have to attach a reason to why they should continually do that behavior and the reason has to be meaningful for your child.

Again, this is the reason I have parents write it out because once you’ve write it out, you can start to really process how to make this alive in your child, how you can actually shape the behavior.

Now, you may be thinking this is a lot of work, but again, we are taking the idea of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If we take the time to learn the skill and to map it out and to really do each of these steps, we are avoiding major meltdowns in the future.

It’s better to take five, ten minutes right now to address this and get it down and understand it and plan for it than it is to do it haphazardly and then later having to deal with the behaviors that follow. Does that make sense to you? Because it should makes complete sense to me.

Take some time, take five, ten minutes, look at it, one day, look for peaks and valleys. Focus in on maybe one or two areas that you want to teach your behavior to and then start writing down through each of these steps describing what your child should be doing. Not what they should not be doing, what they should be doing when something occurs, and then giving a meaningful reason of why that’s important to your child, that is meaningful for your child and your. Then after you do that, what you’re going to do is you’re going to practice it with them, whether it’s verbally or physically.

In cases with children with ADHD, I always want the Role-play or the practice to be as realistic as possible. And the reason for that is when children with ADHD Role-play and things are as similar to the condition as possible, they tend to be able to recall it a lot better.

So sitting there and talking about it at the kitchen table, if the behavior is happening in the living room most of the time is not as effective as actually practicing it in the living room.

Make the Role-play as real as possible, following the steps of the skill of Role-playing. Now, after you Role-play, your child is not going to be perfect, but you do want to find things to praise them for.

So focus in on the positive things they’re doing well during the Role-play. Praise them for that and if they need correction, make the correction, right? And say, “Well.” So, what that would look like would be like, “Hey, you did a great job looking at me and speaking calmly and doing exactly what I said which was to put the Lego down. So what I noticed was is that you actually put it down forcefully, what I want you to do is put it down nicely.”

So it could be as simple as that, be as simple as that. So you’re going to praise for the positive things that they do and then give a correction for things that they need to correct, whatever it may be, and then continually practice that.

Okay, I hope everybody is super excited to kind of see all of these other skills gel into this Preventive Teaching. As you can see, they’re all connected to each other and they all work in conjunction with each other and so, really, it is super important to understand how all of the other skills work individually and now we’re bringing them all together, isn’t that kind of amazing, really?

What we’ve done is we’ve given you tools, these different skills and now we’re teaching you how they all work in conjunction with each other. And that for me, is the exciting part of being able to learn these parenting skills is because you have already tools that you can use and you can put in different places and work with.

So yay. Hallelujah. Now I’ve given you a map on how to use all of those elements in this skill of Preventive Teaching. Let me give you an example of how this has been effective in the past with other children that I’ve worked with, and then now with my own child.

There was a time I was working with a lot of teenagers and teenagers who were transitioning into driving and getting jobs and what I found amazing is that their parents would often tell them, “Go get a job.”

But the children were unprepared for a job interview. They were unprepared for preparing a resume. So this general idea that kids just know this and can adopt it, maybe they can, maybe they can’t.

I know that in a lot of high schools, they start to teach some of these skills. However, teaching them these skills in school and actually having them experience it through a Role-play, completely different, they are completely different.

In the past, I was working with a lot of children who were transitioning and so we would do some Preventive Teaching to help them along the way. With one young man that I was working with, he was already 18, but he was in the court system and they extended his time in the juvenile system even though he was 18, which is the age of being a legal adult.

They extended his time so he can learn some of these additional skills and so what we did was we prepared, we anticipated where he would feel his anxiety or his discomfort in finding employment.

He wanted to get a job. He wanted to be more independent. He didn’t want to be dependent on his parents and so we set out a plan together and I use Preventive Teaching in preparing him for a job interview.

We would write down questions. I taught him how to fill out a resume, and then how to present that. How to shake hands. Which is why that’s one of the examples that is in the Preventive Teaching video. We would go through interviews.

Now, to make this more real for him, we actually went to the places where he was applying, so he was applying at a McDonald’s so we actually went to McDonald’s and we sat in the food area and I held an interview with him asking him specific questions about working and his personality and characteristics and had him do an interview.

Now, during this process of preparing him for this, he started to calm down about his fears of interviewing and what we did was we were able to prevent him from avoiding these things by using the skill of Preventive Teaching.

We practiced it multiple times in the McDonald’s. We went over to a different chain, Carl’s Jr. We went to various food chains where he could get some employment and we Role-played what it would be like to do this.

Interestingly enough, what I found was when we went to this McDonald’s to continually do this, somebody noticed us doing this and so the manager asks us what we were doing and I explained what it was and he’s like, “Well, we actually are looking for help.”

And so I was like, “Well, maybe you can interview him. I don’t know. Do you want to talk to him? He’s right here.” And so they had the interview. I mean, it was kind of funny and so he had already learned how to do this with me and now he was doing it with somebody else and based off of the feedback, he was a pro.

I mean, I sat off to the side watching and observing and I remember writing this in his report to his probation officer just how proud he was walking out of there because he had acquired a skill that he previously did not have and he was able to do that in a successful way on his own.

I mean, he was learning how to be more independent and that made him happy. Made him super happy. So, you’re probably wondering if he got the job. He did get the job. Yay for him and yay for all of us, right?

But again, these are skills that I think sometimes we take for granted that children know what we expect from them, but the reality is is they need us to help guide them through it in especially difficult situations.

Right now with my daughter, we do a lot of Preventive Teaching. She just got her license so we , I do a lot of Preventive Teaching with her on the road. Before we leave, I prepare her for what may be happening.

Busy traffic. Road conditions. Possible road blockages because in our state, it seems like they’re working on construction on the roads all the time. So we prepare for those things before we actually drive on the road and you’re going to find that driving instructors do that all the time, so super helpful.

You’re going to find successful teachers also use this skill when they are preparing to teach a class, they usually set up all the expectations upfront. They prepare students for what is to come ahead.

I don’t know if you’ve gone to college or have taken a course, but usually, teachers will prepare their students ahead of time for what is to come in the future. Children need that preparation, they need that planning to happen by you as a parent, but because there are concrete thinkers and they don’t have your life experience. It needs to have these very specific steps to guide them along the way.

Now again, Preventive Teaching can be done also with children with behavioral issues and you are going to find a testimonial on the Preventive Teaching skill video lesson. There are parents that have used this for children who have had tantrums and children who have meltdowns. And what they do is they use Preventive Teaching. And again, addressing things that are occurring before the tantrum happens and what they can do in order to avoid a tantrum.

This is particularly fascinating for therapists and people who work with children in helping them deal with their behaviors before they occur, but this is something that parents, that you can absolutely do with your child.

If you notice when you’re observing throughout one day a peak where they have a tantrum, evaluate, okay? What do we need to teach them to do? Instead of getting into a tantrum, what do we need to be teaching them?

Do we need to be teaching them how to calm down by deep breathing? Counting backwards? Positive imagery? Running around outside? Getting some of the energy out? What are the things that we need to do to teach to them what they should be doing instead?

If you want to be successful in this skill and this is new to you, you need to write it down. I’ve said that probably four or five times, but you need to write it down. Take some time, write it out. The more you’re able to plan this out on your own, the more you are using Preventive Teaching for yourself to avoid future meltdowns when you’re trying to teach it and you see what I did there?

I’m actually telling you to use Preventive Teaching on yourself first before you start using it on your child so you know and you can be prepared for what is to come ahead. Preventive Teaching is something that is like a warm blanket for children.

It really is something that provides a sense of comfort and trust. Can you imagine what it’s like for a child to know that you are thinking ahead for them and that you can anticipate for them things that may be difficult for them?

There’s a sense of trust there where they’re like, “Oh they care about me, they know what I’m going to go through, what I’m going to struggle with. They know and they’re ready to take care of me and be sure I know what I need to do before things happen.” Right? Absolutely.

This is a very, very important skill to manage and to learn and to do and you can do it anytime. You can do it anywhere. Preventive Teaching can be done fairly quickly in the car before your child leaves for school.

I use Preventive Teaching with my child when I used to drop her off to school because now she’s driving to school or picking her up from school so my child will get in the car after school for example and I would say, “Wow, I’m sure it was a long day today.”

That’s step one, expressing empathy about how they may be feeling. Then I would say, “I know you’re tired. What I need you to do when we get home is I need you to finish your homework first.” Okay? So I gave her step number two which is I’m describing what behavior I want my child to have.

Step number three, I’m going to give her a reason. “If you’re able to finish your homework on time before 4:00, then you’ll be able to jump online and talk to your friends and visit with them and maybe even go out and do an activity with them.”

A meaningful reason that’s meaningful to her. So I didn’t say, “If you do that, I’ll be happy about it. If you do that, it’s going to be great for me.” It’s a reason that’s important to her, then step four.

So, now I’m not practicing a bit there specifically, but I’ll say, “Okay, so you’re going to take. When you get there, you’re going to take out your books and you’re going to start working on your homework. You grab a snack, take out your books, work on your homework at the table.” Descriptive, right?

And so we practice that actually when she got home during the first weeks of school, and then this was a reminder for her. What I noticed is during this even when we practiced, she tended to take some more time actually grabbing snacks and trying to figure out what to eat and so we compressed that.

I praised her for being able to put her books on the table and coming home and doing that first before getting a snack and then I made the correction of, “Okay, you have three minutes to choose something to snack on while you are doing your homework.”

So, that was the correction and then we would practice it during the first part. And so now, I’m using Preventive Teaching and using these steps again later on in helping her when I pick her up right from school.

So you can do this skill pretty much anywhere, you really can. However, it is recommended that you do it at a time when your child is in a fairly neutral state when they’re not highly explosive or acting out or screaming or yelling, that’s not the time to use Preventive Teaching.

You want to use Preventive Teaching at a time when they’re calm and when you can look ahead for something that may be happening in the future. There’s an example I always give about a child in church because I. It’s the example that always sticks in my head with these parents who really struggled with keeping their children quiet in church.

Their child would just act out in church and so we use Preventive Teaching with them. We taught it at home first and have them practice it so the parents were teaching their child how to still. What they wanted their child to do instead of getting on top of the chair. Bouncing up and down. Pointing at people and talking to people in the pew behind them.

For them it was like coloring in a coloring book or they could play with some little silly putty and pull it apart. I mean, they just had these little activities that they could do with their child so they could stay in church and then we gave them a meaningful reason which was, “if they were able to color, then they could get a treat.” And this is something the parents decided, not me, but they would give them, a piece of candy every once in a while if they’re able to maintain that over a periods of time. And we measured it out depending on the child because sometimes a child’s attention span was shorter than another child’s.

And so we worked that out to where one child was sitting on one side, the other child was sitting on another and the parents would give a treat depending on their ability to maintain.

What we did was after we practiced this at home, we actually went to the church and sat in the pew and had them practice it there. And what we found is that actually being in the environment was a lot more difficult for them to do, they could do it fine at home, but once we were in the environment and we were practicing it and this was without anybody else there, it was a little more difficult for the children to maintain.

However, by consistently Role-playing this and by Effectively Praising the things they did well and then giving them treats and communicating with them and getting their concerns and working through all of that, they actually were able to teach their child to sit through an entire service. Which is a miracle for them because it was very difficult for them to actually go to church and enjoy receiving instruction there because their children were out of control. And mom was embarrassed because it was disruptive for other people and all of this other stuff going on.

Very, very powerful skill. Very, very powerful. With these parents in particular, we had to map it out. And in fact, we went through multiple drafts of reasons why it’s important to sit still because sitting still for the parents was for them to enjoy and be a part of the congregation and receive instruction and be uplifted spiritually.

For the children to sit still, it was a completely different reason so we had to use reasons that are meaningful for them. Which is why we gave them or why the parents decided to give them a treat every once in a while in order to help them learn to manage their behavior because the reasons that the parents were using initially, the kids didn’t care. They didn’t care about that.

As the children develop and they grow, we can start to alter some of the reasons why. Now, you may think you know what the reasons are for your child, but you may have to step back and really evaluate what is important to my child. What can I plug into that step number three?

So again, step one, two, three, four, five, six. I’m going to go through them again because I think it’s super important and repetition is super important for you. Step one, say something positive about your child’s behavior or express empathy about how they may be feeling.

Step two, describe how you want your child to act. Avoid telling them how not to act. So again, tell them specifically what they should be doing. Step three, give a meaningful reason to behave that way and this reason has to be meaningful for your child.

Step four, practice this, practice what you, how they should behave so you’re going to Role-play it and use the steps of Role-playing. Step five, find something positive they did during the practice and praise it and then if you need to make a correction, you can make a correction.

Step six, continue to practice. Practice it three, four, five, six, 10, 15 times, however many times it takes for your child to integrate this new behavior into their being. Into their muscle memory. Into their brain. Into the way it sounds to them. The way it feels for them. Those are the steps. This is what you’re going to do.

My challenge to you is, again, take a day, evaluate that. Use the ABC’s of Behavior to figure out when are some peak behaviors that we need to correct and teach to and then write it down.

Write down what you’re going to say for each of these steps. Write it down. Once you write it down, you’re going to be able to know if this is going to work or not for your child. You can practice that with yourself and then you’re going to teach this to your child.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It sounds like a lot of work, but that is less work than dealing with a child who is out of control. And when you’re dealing with a child that’s out of control, that usually lasts 10 times longer.

Take five minutes. Now, to do this, take 10 minutes now to plan ahead and then teach it to your child and you’re going to find miracles are going to happen for you. Preventive Teaching, fantastic skill, one of the most basic I teach every family to use because it’s so powerful and it’s one of those things that really, really strengthens relationships.

So that’s it from me on Preventive Teaching, but again, if you have not watched this video, it’s a great video and Dana, who’s the parent in the video explains the skill really well and the examples are fantastic.

So jump over to the website to check that out and I will be addressing again another skill next week that we’re going to integrate into Preventive Teaching and all the other skills that will deal with behaviors. If your child is out of control, what do you do?

This is helping your child during the antecedent phase. What are we going to do before the behavior happens next week, or I mean next time we talk, I will be covering what you do when your child is actually out of control.

Can you see how all of these are kind of merging together? This is fantastic because it actually allows parents to address behaviors at any stage. Early. During and after a behavior.

You’re going to know exactly what you need to do in each of these stages. I am excited to share that with you too, but get this skill down first, get this skill down, and then we’ll move on to the next one. All right? That’s it from me. Have a great one. I’m sending you good vibes, hoping everything is going well for you, and I will see you again next time.


Behavior skills of the Teaching-Family Model

Behavior skill: Preventive Teaching

Steps of Preventive Teaching

Behavior skill: Effective Praise

Behavior skill: ABC’s of Behavior

Blog post: How to use Preventive Teaching to help your child’s anxiety

Blog post: Using Preventive Teaching to talk about national tragedies with your children

Blog post: Preventive Teaching-3 quick tips


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Specific DiagnosisADHD#51: Finding success with Preventive Teaching