The Practice offers individual consultations with a Chartered Educational Psychologist. Referrals are made through the General Practitioner, Health Visitor or Community Paediatrician. The psychologist can offer advice on the following:-
General Practitioners within the Bellshill / Motherwell / Viewpark LHCC can refer patients for assessment / consultation or advice.
Appointments are offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and last around 40 minutes. If you have any questions about this service please ask the staff.
POSITIVE BEHAVIOUR IN YOUNG CHILDREN
This is about teaching children guidelines so that
they can be part of a civilised society. People
may have different ideas on what is good or unacceptable behaviour.
Our living circumstances may have an affect on how we view behaviour.
For example, if we live in a small confined area, some behaviour has more
of an impact than it would on a family living in a large house.
Society sets the guidelines for behaviour, children need to learn what
these guidelines are.
Children work on a reward system, they will repeat behaviours that are rewarded. Therefore it is important that they are rewarded for positive behaviours rather than those that are unacceptable in society. An example of a positive behaviour could be playing quietly, sharing something with a sibling, or helping to tidy away toys.
Rewarding Positive Behaviour
are a number of ways in which positive behaviour can be encouraged and rewarded.
This does not mean buying something for the child but giving rewards in a
variety of ways.
attention is the most important and effective reward. It is important that the attention is focused on the child,
however it is rare that a child gets the parent’s undivided attention for
usually there are other things going on around them (e.g. the television is on,
others are in the room, etc.). It
is worth noting that parents often give their children more attention when they
have been ‘naughty’ rather than when they are ‘well-behaved’.
In this way, attention is often related to negative behaviours.
If a child does not get enough attention for doing positive things then
they will find other ways of getting a response, such as by behaving in a
negative way. The amount of time
spent giving attention is not important. It
is the quality of the time spent that is vital.
A short time period of quality time per day is better than several hours
of contact where the parent is busy doing other things.
addition to giving lots of positive attention to promote positive behaviours,
the withdrawal of attention can be used to reduce unacceptable behaviours.
Children can enjoy the attention given in response to negative behaviours,
even if it involves an adult being cross with them.
Withdrawing attention is one of the most effective
ways of reducing unacceptable behaviours. It
requires consistency, a strong nerve and a good sense of timing to be effective.
It is important that attention is withdrawn in every way (visually,
physically, verbally) and that it is resumed as soon as the child’s behaviour
improves. Attention can be given in
very subtle ways – e.g. banging down a coffee mug, turning up the television,
may be times when attention cannot be withdrawn (i.e. if the child’s behaviour
is a danger to him/herself or others). In
that situation, intervention would be required to ensure the child’s safety.
If distraction to another activity is not effective, it may be necessary
to remove the child from the situation.
out is the name given to a strategy involving the withdrawal of attention.
This is not a solution to all behaviour problems but is a targeted
response to specific problem behaviours. Time
out can involve removing the child from the situation to another room for a
limited period of time (usually 2-5 minutes depending on the child’s age),
removing others from the room if it is not possible to remove the child, or the
child remaining in the room but not being permitted to participate in
activities. If the selected
intervention is time out in another room, it is important that it is safe enough
for the child to be unsupervised for a few minutes and there must be no
distractions (e.g. toys or a television to watch).
child must understand what the behaviour was that led to the Time Out.
It is best to move on as soon as possible after the Time Out, rather than
getting into discussion about the incident that led to it.
A difficulty of using Time Out is that it is a response to unacceptable
behaviour and focuses on what the child should not do.
It is important to reward behaviour that is positive in order for the
situation to move forward.
When responding to unacceptable behaviours, it is
important to remain calm and avoid becoming emotional with the child.
Do not shout or lose control, children will change their voices to the
level of the adult. If you are calm and direct the child will see that you mean
what you say. This will also
prevent the conflict growing further.
feel more secure when there is a clear pattern to their day.
In the most loving of relationships there needs to be consistent
boundaries and limits for the child. Remember
that it is not naughty for children to test these boundaries, rather it is part
of the learning process.
adults involved in the child’s care need to decide on the rules in the house
(e.g. bedtimes, mealtimes and other routines).
When making the rules it is important to consider what behaviours are
acceptable and which are not. Rules
should be aimed at ensuring the child’s safety and promoting their feelings of
security and their development. Any
disagreements about managing a child’s behaviour should be done without the
child being present. Otherwise
there is a risk that the child may try to play one adult off against another to
get their own way.
you decide on the rules, it is essential that they are applied consistently by
all involved in the care of your child. Develop
a standard response to certain behaviours, which can be written down if
necessary so everyone responds in the same way.
It takes time for children to learn the limits for their behaviour.
The programme would need to run for at least 2 weeks to see any change,
even then it may be minor. If there
is no change, it is time to re-evaluate the programme to identify where you are
falling down. Do not try to go it
alone, each adult involved in caring for the child must share the
responsibility. Consistency also
needs to be demonstrated in the rewarding of positive behaviours.
the child following positive behaviour. This
can involve smiles, hugs, cuddles or clapping in addition to spoken praise.
In general, children love to be told that they have done something well
(as do adults!). Draw
attention to the positives – e.g. ‘David, well done.
You played really well with your sister today’.
is important to distinguish between behaviours that are unacceptable and the
child. In order to promote the
development of the child’s self-esteem and feelings of security the language
used by adults must emphasise that it is the behaviour, rather than the child,
that is not liked. For example, it
would be better to say ‘That was a naughty thing you did’ than to say ‘You
are a bad boy’. The words we use
can make a significant impact on the child’s perception of events.
By suggesting that the problem is the child, the child is more likely to
feel resigned to being ‘naughty’ than to feel motivated to behaving more
about what is rewarding to your child. For
example, stars, stickers, particular activities.
Positive behaviour can be rewarded with an activity that is special to
the child (e.g. visit to the park, favourite t.v. programme, etc.).
It is important for rewards to be immediate, consistently given and
always linked with social praise. They
must be important and motivating for the child if they are to be effective.
often do you praise your child for playing well as opposed to telling them off
for doing something wrong?
What activities would be rewarding for your child?
could you draw more attention to positive behaviours?
opportunities do you have for giving your child your undivided attention?
So far the focus of this booklet
has been on promoting positive behaviour. In
the remaining section, information on the working to prevent temper tantrums by
the use of behavioural diaries and star charts is presented.
As the basis for any of these methods, the issues highlighted so far
remain essential features.
young children, tantrums are common, especially if the child is tired.
They occur when there is a conflict between the child’s wants and the
parent’s wishes. A temper tantrum
is a way of expressing anger at not getting their own way.
With a temper tantrum all you can do is try to minimise the damage and
learn from the experience. There
are no easy answers! You can help
your child’s frustrations by trying to put how they’re feeling into words
(e.g. ‘you’re feeling angry that you have to into your buggy now, but
you’ll be able to get out when we’re at the park’).
You are waiting at the checkout of your local
supermarket. As you stand at the
checkout your child asks for some sweets. You
have two options:
You say ‘no’ to your child. She
gets annoyed and starts to shout, scream, stamp her feet, and punch you.
You feel so embarrassed that you give in and buy some sweets.
The person behind you in the queue makes a loud comment ‘Aye, you
shouldn’t give into them. That’s
no way to teach a child’. You
feel angry and embarrassed.
You say ‘no’ to your child. She
gets annoyed and starts to shout, scream, stamp her feet, and punch you.
You feel embarrassed but refuse to give in.
You manage to get your shopping on the conveyor belt as your child
continues to scream on the floor. You
manage to ignore the stares from other shoppers.
As you leave, you hear somebody say ‘What a shame – the poor child
only wants a sweet and the mother won’t give her one.
That’s no way to bring up a child’.
You leave feeling angry and embarrassed.
examples show that no matter what you say someone will think it was wrong.
The key is to try to avoid the tantrum in the first place.
One of the key issues in a tantrum is about gaining control of a
situation. It is important for the adult to maintain the authority as
the carer in the relationship. This
will promote feelings of security for the child in the long-term.
It is important to reflect on ways you can reduce the
likelihood of your child having a temper tantrum. A useful way of looking at behaviour problems is using the
– This stands for Antecendents (what caused the
- This stands for Behaviour (what
- This stands for Consequence (What was
If you can identify the events that led to the
tantrum then you can avoid the negative behaviour which means there will be no
Using the A-B-C model, how could we think about
solving the Supermarket problem?
Time for Reflection
exactly happened before your child’s behaviour became challenging? Could you
see it coming? Could you have done
anything to avoid it before it became full blown?
did you respond to the behaviour? What was the impact of your response on the
child? Did it help to calm the situation?
could you prevent similar conflict in the future?
A useful tool for working the A-B-C model is to keep
a diary of your child’s behaviour. It
is useful for the focus to be on times when your child’s behaviour was
appropriate in order to see what situations could be used to increase these
times. Under what situations does
your child respond best? When is communication with your child most positive?
What is different about times when his/her behaviour is positive or negative?
Behaviour charts/diaries can be used to identify triggers leading to challenging
behaviour, allowing you to see if there is any pattern.
you have identified the behaviour that needs to change you can work on
developing targets for your child. This
ensures that the focus is on encouraging positive behaviours rather than
punishing unacceptable behaviour. Star
charts or reward sheets can be useful ways of checking progress.
In order for them to be effective, target behaviours need to be
achievable. Depending on the age of
your child, he/she could be involved in deciding what the targets should be and
in discussions about whether or not the target has been reached.
By breaking the day into separate time periods you can reward the
child’s behaviour in each part of the day.
This means that the child gets frequent rewards for positive behaviour
and can start afresh after a period of disruption.
For example, a child may have a very good day but have a tantrum in the
evening. This would not take away
from rewards for behaviour throughout the day.
the key behaviours that will be rewarded by stickers/points.
the day into manageable time periods. If
the child’s behaviour is very challenging, the time periods may need to be
possible, involve your child in designing the chart and setting the steps
towards the target behaviour.
other members of the family in praising the child for success.
take points away once they have been earned!
the stars motivating and meaningful for the child. For example, 5 stars in a row leads to a special treat
(outing to the park, favourite game, sweet, etc.).
Be careful in setting up the rewards that they are not so generous that
they cannot be maintained. Positive
time with a parent is often enough.
be effective, the chart must be used for several weeks.
It is likely more that there will be an initial improvement followed by
difficulties. It is essential that
you keep going and persevere. Over
time you may be able to increase the time periods or change the reward system
(e.g. extend it from 5 stars in a row to 7 in a row).
Eventually we would hope the child will adopt the target behaviours
without actively trying to gain points. When
this happens the chart can be discontinued or used to address another behaviour.
Behaviour problems in young children are to be
expected as part of their learning and exploration of their world.
By testing limits and boundaries they develop the necessary skills for
participation in society (e.g. sharing, accepting ‘no’, etc.).
Throughout this time they will benefit from love, respect and clear,
consistent parenting. Research
indicates that children who are exposed to challenging situations develop skills
in problem solving and emotional coping that will support them in later life.
Having a supportive family is one of the key factors that promote
resilience. In the short-term,
using strategies to promote positive behaviour may be more demanding on time,
energy and perseverance however the long-term benefits for your child, you, and
wider society make it a vital part of the role of any parent!