As a School Psychologist a huge part of my job is planning behavior and academic interventions for kids. However, when it comes to my own child, it is a little more difficult. Luckily, I work with some wonderful psychologists who are great at coming up with super simple interventions.
O has not been listening quickly for the last couple of months, and I've found myself repeating myself more often than I would like and counting to 3 to get her to listen. I really don't like counting to 3...it just gives her a reason to wait to listen instead of listening quickly. So, I asked my friend Jan for ideas...
To do this intervention, I gave O a piece of blue cardstock (blue is her favorite color). I explained to her that when she listened the FIRST time I asked her to do something, she would get a star on her paper. That's it. Simple and VERY effective.
O was very excited about her sheet. At first I gave her stars very frequently, but I didn't give them everytime she listened the first time because random reinforcement seems to work better than continuous. Also, I didn't want her to expect to get a star for listening...I worry about eroding the intrinsic motivation that comes from behaving nicely. However, I did want her to be excited about earning the stars in order to help her get back into the habit of listening quickly. So far this is really working. Here are a few important points of this intervention:
-She is not allowed to ask for a star (this was never an issue, but if it had been I planned to tell her that she would not get a star if she asked).
-I did not ask her to do something by saying "If you do ..., you'll get a star." The stars were like a fun surprise after she listened the first time...there was no convincing her to listen by promising a star.
-I did not take away stars when she didn't listen. I didn't mention the stars at all when she didn't listen.
-She doesn't earn anything once she fills the sheet up with stars other than the satisfaction of knowing that she did a great job and earned a sheet full of stars. (Elliott's first question was "what does she get for filling the sheet?") I didn't want this intervention to be about what she would get because I don't want to instill in her that she should "get" something for behaving appropriately. I just want to help her get back into the habit of quick listening.
So far this is working for us, and we're having fun (which is the most important thing). This turned out to be a pretty wordy post (for me!) for a simple intervention. Enjoy!