Behavior-Using Your Plan: Ways To Create Lasting Change
Using Your Behavior Plan To Create Lasting Change
This is the fifth article in a series describing the process of positive behavior support. In this article, we will share strategies for ensuring your plan will work for your child and family and produce durable results.
The previous two articles in this series described how to create a plan that includes proactive, teaching, and management strategies to help your child be successful in typical family routines. This article is about how to implement – or use your plan. It will cover how to improve the chances that your plan will be used consistently and effectively and how to gradually adapt strategies to help your child be independent successful in constantly-changing life situations.
Making Sure Your Plan Fits
Well-designed plans (that include proactive, teaching, and management strategies that match the functions of your child’s behavior) are typically effective, but there are considerations that predict whether they will work across situations and for the long-term. Below are things to consider so you can ensure that the plan you develop fits well into your family life, is realistic, and produces sustainable change.
- Child Characteristics – Children are unique and respond differently to various approaches. It is important to consider your child’s social communication, cognitive, sensory, motor, and emotional characteristics as well as his or her preferences when choosing strategies. For example, some children may only need you to provide verbal instructions as a proactive strategy, while others will need text, pictures, or even photographs to help them understand. When selecting skills to teach, it is critical to align them with your child’s abilities and the circumstances that they regularly face. When choosing management strategies, you must provide reinforcement that is meaningful and motivating to your child.
- Environment and Resources – Whether a plan will be readily implemented is dependent on the physical and social environment in which it will be used. This means making sure necessary resources (e.g., materials such as visual supports or equipment) are available and the environment is arranged to support the plan. It also means that strategies are designed to fit naturally within typical routines, rather than being disruptive to natural life patterns. Plans are most sustainable when they do not create undue stress on family members and are easy to use given the circumstances.
- Caregiver Preferences, Skills, and Motivation – It is important to consider the capabilities and needs of everyone in a child’s life – including other parents, siblings, nannies/babysitters, grandparents, friends and neighbors, and so forth. The strategies need to be “doable” and acceptable by all of the people providing care to a child. Family members and other caregivers may require some explanation and training to adopt strategies. They may also benefit from incentives such as positive feedback for their efforts, especially when changes they are making are particularly difficult.
- Systems Issues – Children are members of families and participate in a variety of educational, recreational, and community settings in which there are certain expectations and limits. It is important that strategies are aligned with these ‘systems’. In some cases, plans may need to be adapted to fit the demands of the system or vice versa. For example, if particular routines or household rules are important to you, your child’s plan should support them.
In the following video, you will hear Jack’s mother and sisters talk about how they have designed strategies to fit Jack’s needs, as well as participate in activities the entire family enjoys.
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