The previous post focused a bit more on children with disabilities, with advice about picture boards and sign language. However, many strategies for reducing behavior problems will apply to just about all children.
Have a small number of rules: The more rules you have, the more likely the child will get into trouble. Instead of having rules about not touching glasses, because they can break, and punishing a child who disobeys, simply put glassware up above where the child can reach. Having too many rules is not often a problem in families on the reservation, but it sometimes is in classrooms, from preschool through high school. When a child has a major difference between the number of rules at home and school, this may make problems even more likely. This may also explain why your child, who is not a behavior problem at home, is constantly getting into trouble at school.
Give advance warning when changing activities. Many young children are frustrated when they have to stop one activity and start on another. They are enjoying watching TV and now you want them to come in and eat dinner. They are taking a bath and you want them to go to bed. They are in bed and you want them to get up and go to school. Even if they like school, or bathing or dinner, it may be hard for children to ‘switch gears’. It can help to give them advance warning – “When that show is over, it is time for dinner,” or “In ten minutes, you need to get out of bed and get ready to go to Head Start.”
Keep a regular schedule. This is difficult for many families who may need to make frequent doctor’s appointments, work different shifts in the casino, often change jobs, lose jobs, look for different jobs, need to find a new place to live. As much as possible, though, have a regular routine when your child gets up, has breakfast, goes to school, comes home, has supper, goes to bed and so on. Try to have family rituals. In our family, we were not very good about having regular meals, however, we read every one of the children a story before bed every night. Yes, my children were raised pre-iPad.
One of my favorite families lets their daughter play educational games before bed and she contacted me to find out if I would be doing any more apps in the Making Camp series soon because she had earned all of the possible points! We’re working on it as fast as we can – honest.