This guest post is from Kristine Owens, M.A., BCBA, the founder of Family First Behavior. Thanks, Kristine! 

What if we could change things around to prevent our kids’ problem behaviors?

As parents, we often focus on what to do after our kids do something we don’t like. However, by making some changes to our kids’ environment, we can prevent behavior issues from ever occurring! In ABA, we call these changes antecedent manipulations.

Change the order!

Does your child get hangry after being at preschool all afternoon? Be ready with a snack at pickup to prevent that meltdown. Is picking out an outfit a daily battle when you just need to get out of the house? Let your child choose the night before and have it ready to go! Sometimes allowing our kids the freedom to pick the order of events is enough to prevent the resistance that often accompanies our daily routines. For example, ask them if they’d like to put pjs on or brush teeth first.

Set them up for success! 

Reminding our kids ahead of an event what the expected behaviors are is another great way to help prevent problem behavior. In this way, we are setting them up to succeed by informing them of those expectations. Letting kids know about an impending transition is also a terrific proactive strategy to keep behavior challenges from occurring. Set a timer to give a visual cue of how much time they have left, remind them of what will happen next, and provide a verbal warning when there is just a little time left before the transition will occur.

Switch up the environment!

We can also make changes to the actual physical environment to occasion more positive behavior. For example, if your child throws their backpack and shoes off in the middle of the floor upon arriving home, provide a hook inside the entryway and a shoe cubby, to increase the likelihood of those things ending up in the right place (this may work for husbands too!). If your child goes straight for the sweet treats in the pantry…who could blame them? Put them out of sight and have healthier snacks where they can get to them. Sometimes making simple changes in our home can lead to more of the behavior we want!

Kristine Owens is a Mom to two little ladies, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and founder of Family First Behavior. She loves helping parents learn more positive strategies to manage their children’s behavior! Be sure to check out Family First Behavior on facebook or visit www.familyfirstbehavior.com to learn more.