When a child has a negative response to a task, there is more to it. They usually aren’t intentionally being defiant or trying to make you upset.
Perhaps you daughter has fallen to the floor screaming at the mention of cleaning her room. Maybe your son has angrily dumped out his favourite toy bucket when you asked him to start his homework. Parents/Caregivers very often report that the children are having difficulties with poor behaviour at school and home. This may look like simply refusing to do the task and sitting quietly at their desk, possibly striking a teacher, or maybe leaving the property. Usually, there is more to the response.
Look for a few different things.
Is it too hard?
Are there too many steps?
Is it a new task?
Do they know exactly where to start?
Are they leaving something else unfinished to attend to the new task?
Are their basic needs met (are they hangry or tired)?
Are they aware of the rewards?
If you answered no to any of the above questions, you likely have found the reason behind their negative response.
Tasks need to be expressed in the very simplest form, one step at a time. For example. Go clean your room. That’s a huge daunting task. Start with this: Please go get the dirty clothes from you room. Thanks! Great! Now, can you take this bag and fill it up with the garbage from your room? Well done! Now start with your red bin and grab the toys that go in that bin. Continue one step at a time until its clean or half clean or whatever deal you have made!
Another example: Your son left the room when handed a math worksheet. Don’t give him the worksheet. Give him a white board and marker with 1 question written at a time. Lots of praise after each question and let him erase the board after each one!
A common example from the gym: When given the next task, the child refuses to return from play time. The child is likely not seeing how they will be able to succeed. We need to break it down further for them and lay out the rewards. Generally children want to succeed. They want to “win”. If they think they can do it, they will do it. If they think they will fail, they won’t try it. Make them see the steps to success. Start with the low hanging fruit. The easy wins get the ball rolling!
We’ve all had it happen. We ask a child to do something and they turn into a completely different child! Who is this kid!? Look back at the situation and ask yourself the above questions. You’ll likely be able to see where the problem occurred.
Now, there are always exceptions to this and sometimes there is much more going on but these are just some general tips that I hope may help a few of you. Please feel free to contact us with further questions or share some success stories.