Posted in Therapy

Rewards to Use With Children During Therapy Sessions

I’ve learned that therapy sessions with some children go much, much better when you can offer some sort of incentive.  The trick is to make sure you have specific expectations for earning the prize, not just if a child has “been good.”  The expectation might be no tantrums during the session, that they will answer all questions, or that they will participate in a practice.  Here are some ideas for rewards you can use with children during therapy sessions.

  • I’ve known some therapists who have a “treasure box” or “prize box” for children to pick items out of.  The Dollar Store, Target’s Dollar Spot, or the party favor aisle of the store are great places to get cheap items to offer as rewards.
  • Stickers
  • Computer game for 5-10 minutes at the end of session (Nick Jr. website is a great site for appropriate games for younger children)
  • An APPROPRIATE youtube video (I once worked with a 4-year-old who watched “Let it Go” from Frozen EVERY SINGLE SESSION).
  • A preferred game with you at the end of session

Don’t forget how powerful praise can be.  Most of the time you do not need to offer a reward if you keep the frequency of praise high!

Posted in Parenting

Eight Tips for Helping Siblings Get Along

  1. Use consequences for conflict. You get to decide when a consequence is issued. You may decide it is only for physical aggression, or you may decide that it’s when a child starts yelling. Whatever you decide, the important thing is to be consistent!
  2. … BUT don’t punish everyone for the actions of one. If only one child began yelling or hit their sibling, don’t punish both of them if the other didn’t do anything wrong. This definitely will not foster a good sibling relationship (think of a sales team losing out on an incentive because just ONE employee didn’t meet their goal). Make the consequences individualized.
  3. PRACTICE – give your children opportunities to play together. If they are always in separate rooms and/or playing with separate toys, they won’t have the opportunity to practice sharing and playing cooperatively with others. Note: you may want to sit in the room with them to be able to observe and respond to conflict.  And when they are getting along…
  4. PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE – Let your children know they’re doing a good job sharing and playing nicely together. Let them know you’re proud of them and how much you appreciate it. You can even give small rewards if your children REALLY have a tough time just about every time they play together.
  5. Try not to FIX it for them every time – teach them instead! When conflict does happen (and it WILL), don’t just jump in and fix it. Instead, talk to your children about their behavior and talk to them about solutions. Give them the chance to learn how to work through conflict and use those problem-solving skills to come up with a solution. They may not be able to do so every time, but at least walk them through the steps to let them try.
  6. Set terms for taking turns, rather than forcing them to share – if there is a favorite toy, don’t just expect your kids to be able to share it. They may get there eventually, but it doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger. You’ll likely benefit from giving them each a set amount of time with the toy and having them take turns.
  7. Give them ideas for playing together – give them a challenge to work towards together. For example, challenge them to make the longest train track or the highest stack of toy cars. Don’t make it a competition, make it something they can do together (TEAMWORK!).
  8. Set physical boundaries to give them some space, if needed. This tip is for siblings who find it VERY hard to play in the same room. If you feel it’s necessary, set physical boundaries. Place a strip of tape along the center of the playroom or send the children to different rooms. You don’t want to do this all the time (see tip 3), but it can give children some much-needed space to cool down.

 

Posted in Parenting

FROZEN Behavior Contracts

Behavior Contracts can be a really useful tool for caregivers to use when trying to increase or decrease a behavior.  Some benefits include:

  • Behavior contracts help caregivers and children keep track of the behavior and the reward.
  • Kids can get involved in filling it out as the day goes by – this is motivating for them!
  • You can modify them as time goes on by changing the reward or making it a little harder to earn the reward.
  • Well-written behavior contracts have very specific expectations, so there’s no question as to whether a child earned the reward or not.

I have created six different Frozen behavior contracts for parents to use.  They are fill-in-the-blank so that you can insert your child’s name, specify what the goal behavior is, and specify a reward.  These can also be used as chore charts – you’d just write chores in instead of a behavior.

Some tips:

  • Try to use proactive language.  Instead of “Krista will not swear,” use “Krista will use nice words all day.”  Or instead of “Krista will not run,” use “Krista will walk” or “Krista will use walking feet.”
  • BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE
  • Preteach the contract to your child to make sure they understand it.
  • There are contracts for filling in 3, 4, or 5 characters or boxes – decide how easy the behavior is going to be for your child, then pick one to start.  If the goal is probably going to be very difficult, start with 3.  If it’s going to be fairly easy, start with 5.  You can always try it for a few days and adjust up or down if necessary.
  • The “outline” contracts allow your child to color in 3, 4, or 5 Frozen characters.
  • The “box” contracts allow your child to fill in boxes (color in, check, start, or smiley face) nex to Frozen characters.

 

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For the 3-character OUTLINE version, click here.

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For the 4-character OUTLINE version, click here.

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For the 5-character OUTLINE version, click here.

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For the 3-character BOX version, click here.

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For the 4-character BOX version, click here.

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For the 5-character BOX version, click here.

Posted in Parenting

TROLLS Behavior Contracts

I had a special request to create some Poppy (from TROLLS) behavior contracts today (how fun!).  I made some with some other TROLLS characters as well.  Here’s my blurb about behavior contracts:

Behavior Contracts can be a really useful tool for caregivers to use when trying to increase or decrease a behavior.  Some benefits include:

  • Behavior contracts help caregivers and children keep track of the behavior and the reward.
  • Kids can get involved in filling it out as the day goes by – this is motivating for them!
  • You can modify them as time goes on by changing the reward or making it a little harder to earn the reward.
  • Well-written behavior contracts have very specific expectations, so there’s no question as to whether a child earned the reward or not.

I have created six different TROLLS (and six with just Poppy) behavior contracts for parents to use.  They are fill-in-the-blank so that you can insert your child’s name, specify what the goal behavior is, and specify a reward.  These can also be used as chore charts – you’d just write chores in instead of a behavior.

Some tips:

  • Try to use proactive language.  Instead of “Krista will not swear,” use “Krista will use nice words all day.”  Or instead of “Krista will not run,” use “Krista will walk” or “Krista will use walking feet.”
  • BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE
  • Preteach the contract to your child to make sure they understand it.
  • There are contracts for filling in 3, 4, or 5 characters or boxes – decide how easy the behavior is going to be for your child, then pick one to start.  If the goal is probably going to be very difficult, start with 3.  If it’s going to be fairly easy, start with 5.  You can always try it for a few days and adjust up or down if necessary.
  • The “outline” contracts allow your child to color in 3, 4, or 5 TROLLS characters.
  • The “box” contracts allow your child to fill in boxes (color in, check, start, or smiley face) nex to TROLLS characters.

 

TROLLS (multiple characters)

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For the 3-character TROLLS box version, click here.

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For the 4-character TROLLS box version, click here.

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For the 5-character TROLLS box version, click here.

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For the 3-character TROLLS OUTLINE version, click here.

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For the 4-character TROLLS OUTLINE version, click here.

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For the 5-character TROLLS OUTLINE version, click here.

POPPY-ONLY

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For the 3-Poppy box version, click here.

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For the 4-Poppy box version, click here.

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For the 5-Poppy box version, click here.

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For the 3-Poppy OUTLINE version, click here.

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For the 4-Poppy OUTLINE version, click here.

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For the 5-Poppy OUTLINE version, click here.

 

Posted in Parenting

Paw Patrol Behavior Contracts

Behavior Contracts can be a really useful tool for caregivers to use when trying to increase or decrease a behavior.  Some benefits include:

  • Behavior contracts help caregivers and children keep track of the behavior and the reward.
  • Kids can get involved in filling it out as the day goes by – this is motivating for them!
  • You can modify them as time goes on by changing the reward or making it a little harder to earn the reward.
  • Well-written behavior contracts have very specific expectations, so there’s no question as to whether a child earned the reward or not.

I have created six different Paw Patrol behavior contracts for parents to use.  They are fill-in-the-blank so that you can insert your child’s name, specify what the goal behavior is, and specify a reward.  These can also be used as chore charts – you’d just write chores in instead of a behavior.

Some tips:

  • Try to use proactive language.  Instead of “Krista will not swear,” use “Krista will use nice words all day.”  Or instead of “Krista will not run,” use “Krista will walk” or “Krista will use walking feet.”
  • BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE
  • Preteach the contract to your child to make sure they understand it.
  • There are contracts for filling in 3, 4, or 5 characters or boxes – decide how easy the behavior is going to be for your child, then pick one to start.  If the goal is probably going to be very difficult, start with 3.  If it’s going to be fairly easy, start with 5.  You can always try it for a few days and adjust up or down if necessary.
  • The “outline” contracts allow your child to color in 3, 4, or 5 Paw Patrol characters.
  • The “box” contracts allow your child to fill in boxes (color in, check, start, or smiley face) nex to Paw Patrol characters.

 

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For a 3-character BOX contract, click here.

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For a 4-character BOX contract, click here.

 

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For a 5-character BOX contract, click here.

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For a 3-character OUTLINE contract, click here.

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For a 4-character OUTLINE contract, click here.

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For a 5-character OUTLINE contract, click here.

 

 

Posted in Parenting

MINIONS Behavior Contracts

Behavior Contracts can be a really useful tool for caregivers to use when trying to increase or decrease a behavior.  Some benefits include:

  • Behavior contracts help caregivers and children keep track of the behavior and the reward.
  • Kids can get involved in filling it out as the day goes by – this is motivating for them!
  • You can modify them as time goes on by changing the reward or making it a little harder to earn the reward.
  • Well-written behavior contracts have very specific expectations, so there’s no question as to whether a child earned the reward or not.

I have created six different Minions behavior contracts for parents to use.  They are fill-in-the-blank so that you can insert your child’s name, specify what the goal behavior is, and specify a reward.  These can also be used as chore charts – you’d just write chores in instead of a behavior.

Some tips:

  • Try to use proactive language.  Instead of “Krista will not swear,” use “Krista will use nice words all day.”  Or instead of “Krista will not run,” use “Krista will walk” or “Krista will use walking feet.”
  • BE AS SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE
  • Preteach the contract to your child to make sure they understand it.
  • There are contracts for filling in 3, 4, or 5 characters or boxes – decide how easy the behavior is going to be for your child, then pick one to start.  If the goal is probably going to be very difficult, start with 3.  If it’s going to be fairly easy, start with 5.  You can always try it for a few days and adjust up or down if necessary.
  • The “outline” contracts allow your child to color in 3, 4, or 5 Minion characters.
  • The “box” contracts allow your child to fill in boxes (color in, check, start, or smiley face) nex to Minion characters.

 

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For a 3-Minion OUTLINE contract, click here.

 

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For a 4-Minion OUTLINE contract, click here.

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For a 5-Minion OUTLINE contract, click here.

 

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For a 3-Minion BOX contract, click here.

 

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For a 4-Minion BOX contract, click here.

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For a 5-Minion BOX contract, click here.

Posted in accepting decisions

Using Puzzles to Practice Accepting Decisions

Almost all children struggle with transitions, especially when they have to stop a preferred activity to go do something else.  Sometimes, as a therapist, I intentionally do something to trigger negative feelings in a child.  Not because I like to torture them, but because then the child can work through those feelings and practice using calming strategies to cope with them.  This is one of those activities.

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What I do is have a child start on a puzzle and tell them that they have a certain amount of time to work on it.  I then explain that once the time is up I am going to tell them to put the puzzle away (whether it’s finished or not) and the expectation is they will say “Ok” and clean it up right away.  No “let me put one more piece in” or a whiny “but I’m almost done!”  Just an “Ok.”

Then we practice.  The first few times I will warn the kiddo that their time is almost up, and remind them that they should say “Ok” and pick up right away.  I also prompt them to use a calming strategy, in order to cope with any frustration they have with being directed to put the puzzle away without being able to complete it.  After they can successful do the practice a few times, then I stop any reminders or prompts and let them do it on their own.  As always, I provide lots of praise when they are able to accept the decision and use a calming strategy to regulate their emotions.

Posted in Parenting

Using Positive Interaction to Reset After Conflict with Your Child

Ever have one of those days where you and your child get upset with each other and can’t quite move past it?  Sometimes even just a little bit of conflict can negatively influence interactions for the rest of the day, whether it’s between parent and child or two adults.  It’s not fun for adults and it’s certainly not fun for children.  Children need positive attention; if they don’t get attention for the good things they’re doing, they’re more likely to act out to get attention.  That’s one reason a “reset” is necessary.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with a reset button (wouldn’t that be nice!).

reset-button

It can be very difficult to let go of a negative interaction, but it can make a big difference if parents can make a point of interacting positively with their child within a few minutes of any negative interactions.  For example, if you just corrected your child for climbing on the table (yes, again!) and a few minutes later you see that they are sitting at the table, praise them!  Or if a few minutes later they are sitting at the table and coloring, talk to them about what they are coloring.  Or sit down and color with them!  Engage with them in a positive way and it will act as a “reset” for both of you.

A few tips:

  • Don’t try to reset if your child is still engaging in negative behavior – this will only reinforce the negative behavior.  Wait until they are behaving how you would like them to.
  • Sound sincere!  I know it can be difficult to let frustrations go, but try to sound genuine (yes, your child can usually tell the difference).
  • Provide the interaction within a few minutes (again, as long as they’re engaging in positive behavior) – if your child gets positive interaction right away, it’s less likely that they’ll have the time to find another negative behavior to engage in.