Category Archives: November 2014

Strategies to Deal With Negative Behavior

TIP: Strategies to Deal with Negative Behavior

Hopefully, over the past few weeks you were able to recognize and celebrate a decrease in your child’s negative behavior by becoming more aware of, anticipating your child’s needs and modeling appropriate communication in order to meet their need. This is a very effective strategy to proactively address behavioral concerns. However, we all know that it is impossible to anticipate all behavioral outbursts due to the busy pace and schedule of life. This week we will begin listing and describing strategies to implement to effectively address behavior without unintentionally reinforcing your child’s behavior.

As discussed in a previous tip, your child’s behavior always serves a purpose to either get something they want or avoid something they don’t want. This negative behavior continues, and sometimes escalates, because it has worked in the past to either obtain what they wanted (tantrum leads to getting the iPad or toy) or avoid what they didn’t want (tantrum leads to delayed bedtime).

Strategies to Deal with Negative Behavior Used to Obtain a Desirable Item or Attention:

  1. Count and Mand (Request) – You would use this strategy when your child wants something and they CAN have it but they are using an inappropriate method (tantrum, crying, screaming) to ask for it. You will first tell your child “quiet” then begin counting (usually to 10 or 15). If the problem behavior continues or begins again during your count, say “quiet” again and begin your count over at 1. Continue this until you are able to reach your desired number without any negative behavior, and then prompt your child to request for the desired item in an acceptable manner (word, sign, PECS or pointing). Immediately deliver the item and reinforce appropriate requesting (“that’s how you tell mommy you want juice”, “good job using your words to tell mommy you wanted juice”). This strategy works to provide space and time between the negative behavior and receiving the item.
  2. Walk and Peel – You would use this strategy when your child wants something (ice cream, to go to desirable location, or a toy) they CAN’T have at that moment. Utilizing this strategy, you simply say “No” or “not right now”. If they accept your “NO”, provide reinforcement and praise. If they continue with negative behavior walk in the opposite direction to ignore and not give any attention to the behavior. Return to your child only to protect your child or property with no talking and minimal eye contact then walk away again. If your child pulls or grabs at you, peel them off and walk away. When your child stops the problem behavior for 1 minute, return to your child and redirect them to something else.

Be consistent and persistent!! Remember, your child has learned for several years that this behavior gets them what they want. Expect it to take several days or weeks to reteach the appropriate way to obtain these items! It is SO worth the extra effort, for your child, for you and your family! Next week we will look at strategies to deal with negative behavior used to avoid something they don’t want to do!

Work this week on implementing the strategies listed above and share any questions or success stories at