On August 10, our team held a Parent Support Workshop and a Teen Support Workshop at our office. These workshops are free and one way we give back to our community. We had a wonderful evening and thank those who attended! We wanted to share some thoughts from those workshops with you.
Parent Support Workshop on Aug. 10: Behavior Change
In this workshop, led by therapist Phyllis Tronrud, we talked about motivating behavior change in children (and a little about change in ourselves). Behavior change skills are strategies used to increase behaviors we want and to reduce behaviors we don’t want. We can influence change in others but we can only change ourselves.
- Keep in mind your goal–what behavior you’re trying to increase or decrease. Remember to be specific and measurable.
- Understand that we’re often really bothered by behavior that we ourselves exhibit.
- Reinforcers are consequences that result in an increase in a behavior. Positive reinforcement increases frequency of a behavior with a “rewarding” consequence, such as nice words or praise, service, candy, attention and affirmations. (Reinforce yourself for your hard work, too!)
- Reinforcers vary by person and age. But parental attention is always a big one!
- Consistency is vital. Consistency of your reinforcement helps change behavior.
- Timing is very important! Give the reward immediately after the desired behavior.
- Choose motivating reinforcers. These things will be different for different children. It may take some trial and error to find what works for your child, and it may change over them. Think age appropriate.
- To practice positive reinforcement, start by simply noticing something positive that occurred. What is something positive you did this week? What is something positive your family member did this week? Track a behavior you want to increase and the reinforcer you used to encourage that behavior. What happened? What did you observe? Reinforce small steps that lead to bigger changes. Set small goals. Even small changes count!
- Positive reinforcement is one tool. There are many tools, however, You may have to try different tools to find what works best for your child. Another biggie is validation. (Validate yourself, too!)
- We often reinforce negative behaviors without realizing it! Usually this is by giving attention to negative behaviors. (Ignore unwanted behaviors when possible.)
- Apologizing after a blow-out where you behaved poorly can be very powerful healing for you and your child.
Additional wise thoughts shared by workshop participants:
- One mom who struggled with getting her child to do homework found that playing with her child before homework helped the child to get in a better state of mind and be more willing to do the homework.
- Take notice of your body language when communicating with children. Most of your communication is nonverbal. Try standing firm (don’t be a pushover), but don’t cross your arms; keep your arms “wide” to show you are open and welcoming with children.
- Your tone of voice is important. Kids pick up on this, especially if it doesn’t match what your words are saying.
- Remember the importance of touch even as kids get older and give loving touches every day.
- Forgive. Don’t expect kids to be perfect or they’ll feel like they don’t measure up. Make sure others know and feel the forgiveness from you. (See Desmond Tutu’s The Book of Forgiving).
Therapist Brandy Routson led the Teen Support Workshop and shared: “We discussed improving communication. We worked on an experiential activity to help demonstrate the importance of asking clarification, explaining things in details so that others understand and reflective listening. We then practiced a problem-solving skill to help teens better discuss issues with their parents and have their voices heard, without yelling or arguing.”
“The teens also participated in a mindfulness activity with the younger kids (glow stick hokey-pokey). They seemed to enjoy it! They shared stories and talked about the ways that they communicate at home.”
Kids on Workshop Night Had a Blast!
The younger children who accompanied parents to our workshop were treated to a great time with therapist Tami Phelps. Tami said: “We did a sensory bottle activity that helps calm the mind and body. Next, we played Hungry Hungry Hippos for fun. We had another sensory experience doing glow-in-the-dark hokey-pokey, and then we did some free dance in the dark with our glow sticks. The kids had a blast!”
Register now for our next workshops in September, October and November. Our parenting workshop and teen workshop are held at the same time (usually the 2nd Thursday). We love supporting our community and hope to see you there!