Behavior Modification During Speech Therapy
"I didn't go to school for this..."
Every once in a while this thought goes through my head when I have a student throw a tantrum, drop to the ground or act out aggressively towards myself or another student. Behavior modification was not a big part of either my undergraduate or graduate level schooling; however, it is a huge part of what I do now everyday as a speech therapist in an early intervention preschool classroom. Many of the techniques I currently use now are either: a) something I have learned in a training, b) the direct policy of the institution where I currently work, or c) a combination of the two.
Today's topic of behavior modification was once again inspired by a comment from the February SLP poll, which specially asked for: "Behavior management techniques." I will do my best, as this is certainly not my forte. However, I recognize the incredible need for discussion. Also, please refer to two posts I wrote this past December entitled "Aggression in the Classroom" and "Aggression Answers," which may provide some helpful questions and answers regarding this topic as well.
Where I work, we do not use "time out" in the classroom. We attended a training fairly recently, in the last year or so, that directly addressed this issue. The belief of the presenter was that "time out" promotes "shame" and "we do not want to shame our students." Instead, we were given other techniques to manage and prevent behaviors, some of which are listed below and are common methods we practice today:
- Reward the Positive: Verbally recognize the good children do to inspire all the children to follow the positive behavior that is occurring. And of course, reinforce the positive.
- If/Then Statements: Tell the child, "If you do this ____, then you can ____."
- Remove from Activity...but Not from the Room: The policy of our institution is that it is never OK to physically "isolate" a child. Instead, turn their chair around and remove them from the activity. Or when all else fails bring them to what we call "the soft area" and allow them time to "calm down in a safe place." The soft area is filled with pillows and soft mats to protect the child.
- Model Good Behavior: Adults and/or peers demonstrate preferred, appropriate behavior, providing students with a tangible model of what is expected.
- Ignore the Bad Behavior as long as it isn't dangerous to the child, yourself or others!
Join me next week as we continue this discussion and talk about ways to prevent "bad behaviors" BEFORE they occur!