You Came Back
One of the strategies we use with families is “Intensive Teaching.” This tool is used to address escalated behavior, power struggles, and tantrums. When a child is non-compliant and out of instructional control, the adult in charge provides brief calming prompts, praises attempts toward regaining control, and removes reinforcing negative attention until the youth has regained control Early in my career, a youth was deep into a power struggle, she had shut down completely with no response to any redirection or correction. I was using the Model. Would it work? I wasn’t confident in my skills or the Model, and felt pretty helpless. So I left. But the Teaching-Family Model reinforces the importance of consistency and follow through. So I came back, repeated my coaching and expectations. I did this three times that day, each time returning to the youth’s home; on the final visit, she came around, began to comply and re-engage. Later, I asked, “What helped her turn her behavior around?” Her reply, “You came back.” The lesson for all caregivers working with challenging youth—Come Back. Be consistent in using the tools that work, it takes time. If you don’t invest the time, don’t expect the results.
Intensive Teaching Steps:
1. Express empathy or praise- this helps the child get back on track, engages the positive.
2. Describe the child’s negative behavior— be brief, and talk in a calm, level voice. Stick to the facts related to the specific behavior. "You are yelling."
3. Give a small instruction— describe what your child needs to do to begin calming down. Keep it brief--10 words, 10 seconds. "Take a deep breath or take a walk."
4. Allow time— this lets your child feel like they have a choice. If the child is in flight or fight mode, they need time for the brain to calm down, let the adrenaline calm down, this could take 10 to 30 minutes, IF the triggers are removed.
5. Praise for any compliance or positive behaviors— praise approximations. If you child doesn’t fully follow instruction, praise areas where they followed part of the instruction. If they don’t follow any part of the instruction, but are doing something else positive, praise that behavior. This helps them have a way out of the tantrum and engages their brain. Remember, our goal at this point is teaching how to regain self control.
Repeat steps 1-5 as necessary, until your child is calm enough to rejoin and repair.