Happy Monday. Hope you all had a nice weekend. Now that we are back into another “school week” try to schedule the weekdays to be more consistent with a typical school schedule. Try to use the same bedtimes and evening schedules as you would typically follow when school is in session. This will help to ensure that children are getting the sleep that is needed which greatly impacts mood and behavior
Today’s focus skill is thinking of rewards, which is thinking of incentives and other positive consequences for choices that are made. This skill can be related to academics, chores, hobbies, interactions with others, etc. This can also be related to our current situation. Although we are practicing social distancing, we continuously hear difficult news. We can start to feel hopeless without seeing the positive impact that we would want to see. Try reminding yourself and your children that we are making a difference and we are helping many others stay healthy and safe. The purpose of this skill to notice the positive impact of positive choices on self and others which should therefore increase the frequency of the behavior. Some rewards for positive choices may include:
● Feeling happy and proud
● Earning tangible incentives or positive outcomes (dessert after finishing dinner, extra electronic time, etc.)
● Completing an activity or project
● Learning something new (gaining knowledge or making progress with something)
● Making others feel good (parents, siblings, friends, etc.)
Suggestions for using this skill:
● Help your child make the connections between choices and positive outcomes. Finishing that assignment made you feel relieved and working hard helped you get better at reading. Being kind to others helped everyone feel happy today.
● Be specific with compliments: replace good jobwith you kept trying and didn’t give up on that worksheet! Now it’s done and you don’t have to worry about it.
● Pair any incentives with actions (you earned extra electronic time because you worked so hard with finishing your assignments today). Provide reminders of incentives prior to and during less preferred activities to increase motivation.
● Point out times when your child is courageous for coping with difficulties. Being able to be brave and cope is a positive incentive. The more often we are courageous with our choices, the more likely that these “choices” become habits. Good choices can still be made during tough situations. We can do hard things even when things are easy, boring, or difficult.
● Help your child take ownership for their choices by using language such as, YOU have gotten better at _____ because YOU made good choices by working hard and not giving up.
● Identify and discuss positive outcomes from the current situation. We have all learned that we can handle really difficult things when we work together. We are helping other people stay safe and healthy.
● Brainstorm fun rewards that can be used at home (ex. an adult doing the child’s chore for a day after a week of the child doing it).
● If using a sticker chart at home, be specific as to why the sticker was earned and the impact that it had on others.
Today is a day to really focus on the positive (positive choices and incentives). In a couple of days, we will also be working on responding to more difficult behaviors but for now, we can hold off ☺. Since it is the beginning of the week, use this time to think about possible “rewards” for this coming weekend. Think of what may be appropriate for your family (plan a hike or walk at a local spot, do a “camp in” by having a family sleepover, make a special dessert or a favorite meal together, etc.). These upcoming “rewards” can keep the family motivated and connected throughout the week. We hope you all have a wonderful day.
Marissa Lloyd, LPCMH