All children use behavior as a way of getting their needs met. In children with special needs, delays in language, social skills and self-help skills may result in various behavioral challenges. If your child has a difficult time communicating his or her needs or wants, s/he may act out with inappropriate behavior. It’s important to try to understand the cause of the challenging behavior so you can help your child find a better way to get his/her needs met.
Consistency. Repetition. These are the most important keys to successful behavior management. Stick to whatever rules you make all the time. Know that the rules, in order to work, will need to be repeated again and again.
“Who is rich? He/she who rejoices in his/her portion.”
Pirkei Avot - Ethics of the Fathers
Reinforcement. Give positive reinforcement after good behavior so that your child will want to repeat it. It is important not to accidentally reinforce the problem behaviors. If your child throws a temper tantrum for attention, don’t give him/her that attention. If you do, this behavior will only be repeated.
Love. Children react best to their parents when there is a sense that the parent loves and values them. For every negative comment or correction, there should be at least 10 positive comments.
Be clear. Make sure your child understands what is going on. Give clear, concise, age-appropriate instructions about your expectations and the consequences for meeting them or not meeting them.
Set up for success. Do everything to make it unlikely that the problem behavior can happen. For example, if your child is playing with breakable objects, try placing those kind of objects out of his or her reach.
Organize. Start with a simple plan, stick with it and track its progress. If you don’t see improvement, shift gears and try something different based on what you have learned.