Today as I write this- it is the day after Christmas. My first thought is that today just may be a tough one for some kids, including my own. Today is a day of no build up, nothing to unwrap, nothing exciting to celebrate, no more countdown calendars. Today is a day to rest, relax, enjoy new toys received, and clean up from yesterday.
So what does that mean to me as a behavior analyst? Today- consider the setting events. Setting events are things that can affect our children’s’ behavior, maybe even make problem behavior more likely. They aren’t triggers or immediate antecedents, but something in the environment, in the big picture that makes those antecedents more likely to cause a problem.
Now that we are aware that the day AFTER a big day could be a setting event that leads to more problem behavior throughout the day- what does this information do for us? What can we do to help our kids on a day like today?
- Give extra noncontingent reinforcement. Giver your child what he/she needs- whether it’s attention, alone time, snuggles, play with new toys, you name it. But give it for free.
- Give extra contingent reinforcement. Remind your kids of the appropriate behaviors/ expectations for your family for the day and give more reinforcement than usual for these desired behaviors.
- Give extra prompts. This means help them out a little more to engage in the appropriate behaviors. When your child starts whining or complaining, don’t jump to a negative/ punishing reaction from mom and dad. Model the appropriate way to express displeasure. Sure- they know this and on other days can do it without the model. But today, give the extra help to do the correct behavior.
Look at the big picture. Give your kids a little grace. Behavior analytically- consider the setting events and give more reinforcement and prompting today to help your kids be successful.