While we may think that children should just know how to behave at the movies or with their friends, they just don’t. Part of growing up is testing boundaries to figure out how things work. It’s our responsibility as a parent to teach our children how to behave in different situations and to navigate the world around them. Preventive Teaching gives your child the specific tools they need to address any and all situations–even ones they’ve not encountered before. Both children and teenagers will benefit from using Preventive Teaching to help prepare them for situations they have not encountered before.
Using Preventive Teaching is how you become a better parent without yelling. Preventive Teaching helps your child understand what you want them to do. By explaining what you want and giving your child a reason that matters to them to behave this way. Using a meaning that matters to your child makes them more likely to repeat the behavior as they have an incentive to behave that way. When talking to your child, it’s important to use words your child understands and avoid telling them what you don’t want them to do.
Success for kids when learning Preventive Teaching comes through practicing. It takes a lot of practicing before knowing what to do becomes second nature for children. Our recommendation is to practice at least 4 times to help the behavior become cemented. Sometimes, certain children/situations are going to require more practice. That’s ok. Practice until your child feels comfortable with doing what they are supposed to do. Know that children may forget what they’ve practiced when encountering the actual situation. If that happens, make correction and practice again for positive behavior management.
Tips for using the skill of Preventive Teaching with your child
*Watch and understand the steps of the skill before practicing with your child.
*Print out the steps of the skill and place them somewhere visible.
*Choose a game or activity that will help your child learn the steps of the skills before moving onto specific situations.
*Model the behavior you want from your child before having them practice.
*Practice a specific situation with your child during a neutral time before the situation arises.
*Practice with your child at different times over different days to cement their response to the situation.
*Adjust the practice to your child’s ability. It’s ok to break the practice into smaller sections.
*Keep the practices fun. Stop as soon as it stops becoming fun and return later. Children are more likely to practice in the future if they think it’s fun.
Visit the Preventive Teaching page on Smarter Parenting for more tips, ideas, games, and activities to help your family learn this skill.