When it comes to increasing talking and decreasing tantrums, we want to spend 95% of our time preventing problem behavior. However, tantrums and problem behaviors can still occur, so what do you do? I have 6 evidence-based strategies that when used effectively are going to encourage more talking and communication and discourage continued problem behaviors.
I am sharing 3 preventative strategies that you can and should be using day in and day out with your child whether they have an autism diagnosis or not. I also include 3 planned reaction strategies to use when you’re experiencing problem behavior and the safety of the child is not in question.
Positive Parenting Tips to Prevent Tantrums – Preventative Strategies
- 8 Positives to Every NegativeToo often I see in preschool classrooms nagging and attention to minuscule directions that a student may not even be capable of carrying out, all of this attention to what a child is doing wrong is focusing on the negative. Spin that around and be sure to find positives and make them known, even the smallest things that aren’t about their behavior.
- One Word Times Three
When a child is manding for something with a tantrum-like behavior, get ready to give it to them and say the word three times [i.e. water, water, water] before handing them their water bottle. If the child says or attempts to say the word water, give it to them right away if they don’t, still, give it to them after the third time.
- Table Time
If you’ve been a listener, reader, or community member you know I am a big advocate for table time. Table time encourages positive interactions, positive reinforcement, and communication.
How to React to Tantrums – Reactive Strategies
- Stop Attention
When a problem behavior is present, the first priority is safety but if the child is safe, all attention must stop. This means do not yell, talk, count, or label the behavior. Any attention is a reinforcement.
- Shush and Give
This procedure teaches children that whining or tantrums or problem behaviors do not get them their desired outcome, only calm behavior. If a child is requesting something with a tantrum, try “shhh say it like this…” or if the child cannot talk say “shhh shhh” and when the child is calm give them their desired toy, food, activity, etc. If they for some reason cannot have what they are asking for, try the shush and then give an alternative positive reinforcement (different toy, snack, etc.)
- Planned Ignoring
Attention is reinforcement, even if you’re silent. If you are with another adult, talk amongst yourselves while you wait for the child to be calm (if you’re alone, scroll your phone or pretend to be writing). This may mean waiting out 30 seconds to a few minutes of crying BUT as soon as the child stops crying and appears calm, give them all of your attention and redirect them to a new activity.
Be sure to like, follow, subscribe, share, comment, etc. on all of our social media channels to help us keep getting the word out. Stay tuned for a special announcement next week that will be a great help for my community and the autism community as a whole!
- Positive parenting tips to prevent tantrums.
- How to help a three year old who is not yet talking.
- How to react to tantrums.
- 3 powerful preventive strategies for problem behavior and tantrums
- 3 planned reactions to problem behaviors.
- How to stop reinforcing problem behavior and start reinforcing positive behaviors.
- How attention can unintentionally increase tantrums.
- How to Stop a Toddler from Throwing Things and Hitting Me – Solving Problem Behaviors
- ERIC – ED408735 – Behind the Schoolhouse Door: Eight Skills Every Teacher Should Have., 1997-Jan
- Power of Positive Parenting: A Wonderful Way to Raise Children: Latham, Glenn, Bijou, Sidney W
- Turn Autism Around®️ – New Book from Mary Barbera
- Mary Barbera on Facebook
- Mary Barbera on TikTok
- Mary Barbera on Instagram
Mary Barbera – Turn Autism Around Podcast Transcript
Transcript for Podcast Episode: 194
6 Strategies to Increase Talking and Decrease Tantrums
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera
Mary: You're listening to the Turn autism Around Podcast Episode Number 194. Today we are talking about the six procedures that I use every day, and I would encourage you to use every day as well for your children, whether they have autism or not, for interacting with your spouse, with your coworkers. And it is all based on the science of ABA. So there are six strategies. Three preventative. Three reactive. Let's get to this episode all about that.
Narrator: Welcome to the Turn Autism Around podcast. For both parents and professionals in the autism world who want to turn things around, be less stressed, and lead happier lives. And now your host, autism mom, behavior analyst and bestselling author Dr. Mary Barbera.
Mary: Hi there. Welcome back. Whether it's your first time here listening or watching or whether you've been here since the beginning, since early 2019, when I started my weekly podcast. Every single Tuesday we come out with one and I think they are getting better and better. In addition to my podcasts, I also produce a weekly video blog and I produce every single day. We come out with new short videos on Instagram and now Tik Tok. So as I'm doing more of these very short videos, I'm realizing just how much I use these six procedures that I wanted to kind of put together here for you. This will be a shorter episode. I know I say that every time I'm doing a solo show and it turns into something a little longer than I want. But I, I am pretty confident that this is going to be among the shorter episodes, but it's also going to be very actionable. And you may even want to take notes or go to the show notes afterwards at MaryBarbera.com/194. All of these six techniques I'm also going to be showing some show and tell items. If you are watching this or want to watch it, you can get that at the same link. So let's get to it. And speaking of Tik Tok and Instagram and YouTube and Facebook, you can always find me by MaryBarbera.com/tiktok, /Instagram,/YouTube you name it, I'm there. Come find me. And not only find and follow me, but I would also love thumbs up, comments, sharing. That really helps the algorithm and it gets my message out to many more people who don't know about me or my child friendly, scientifically proven approach. Okay, let's get to these six procedures. A little disclaimer, because these are all to increase talking and decrease tantrums across any age, across any child with or without a disability. So before I give these six procedures, I do want you to know that as a medical professional, as a registered nurse, as well as a board certified behavior analyst, I actually can't give you specific advice to help your child. It's ethically wrong in some cases, could even be illegal for me to give you actual advice, because I don't know your child or if I do know your child, if you're in my online question community, I know a little bit about your child. It's still dangerous. So you want to take this information and you want to apply it. But if you have professionals in your life that can help you apply it, they will help you apply it better because they know your family as long as they know the approach, which is hard to find, actually. But everything I produce, my books, my podcast, even my paid online courses, all of the information is for informational purposes only. Okay.
Preventative Strategy 1: 8 Positives to Every Negative
Mary: So we want to, tip number one or you know, what we're going to do to get these procedures out there is we are going to spend 95% of our time preventing problem behaviors, and we are going to do that with a technique that I learned from Glen Latham many years ago. Actually, it was the year 2000, so it's over 20 years ago. I saw Glen Latham present at a conference for one hour and it completely changed my life. And Glen Latham had a Ph.D. in special education and he would do independent evaluations on tough cases that nobody else. A deal with. And I remember him telling the story. He wrote two books. We can link them in the show notes. One is called Positive Parenting. It's a 1997 book, I believe. Still recommend it as the best parenting book. And he also wrote another book called Behind the Schoolhouse Door: Eight Skills Every Teacher Needs. I purchased that years ago. It's now available for free download. It's going to be in the show notes as well. Two great books, among other books. But when I saw Glen Latham present at this conference in New York, he said that whenever he would go in for an evaluation of any child, they would tell him, you know, Oh, before you even see the child, say the child's name was Nick. They'd be like, Oh my God, you have never seen a child like that. He is out of control. He's swinging from the chandelier cause he's ridiculous. This is, you know, he doesn't belong here. He needs to go somewhere else. So Glen Latham would take all this in, but he had been to many places where the same descriptions were made. And once he would see Nick interacting with the staff, it was always the same situation. There were a lot more negative interactions than positive. Instead of there being what he recommends eight positives to every negative. It was actually the inverse, and it was sometimes worse than that. Actually, Glenn Latham did do some studies to show that kids in special education receive something like 30 or 50 negatives for every positive, or at least they did back in the eighties when he was doing his research. So what he would find is well-meaning adults were saying, stop that, Nick, and don't do that. And if I have to tell you one more time, you're going to lose recess. And all of these are negative, negative, negative. Even when I go into little preschool classrooms and the aides have a smile on their face and they're like, Johnny, sit, crisscross, applesauce, don't roll on the floor. You need to sit up. Remember, we have to do this or this is not going to happen. You're not going to go to recess or we can't do this or stop that you need to share or I'm putting the toy away or you need to keep your hands to yourself. And like all of those negative reactions or even directions, nagging, keeping the demand on. Those are all negatives and we do not want to do that. Instead, we want to be positive. We want to give eight positives to every negative. That is your number one technique. This is not just for kids and it's not just for kids with autism. This is everywhere you go in your workplace, if you're a teacher and you're interacting with the principal and the administration and the paraprofessionals in the classroom and the teacher, the other teachers, the general education teachers, the parents. We want to be positive. I say you want to be the spoiling grandma, at least while everything is going well. And if you can't think of something positive to say, you know, even I like your shirt or isn't it a nice sunny day out there? Or, Oh, wow, something smells good. You know, maybe somebody is baking cookies. Start giving positive comments wherever you are. If you're at the store, give positive comments to the clerk. If you're working. Like I said, if you're interacting with your spouse, if your spouse comes in the door and all of a sudden you're complaining, you're nagging, you're saying you didn't do this or you didn't do that, or you left a mess for me this morning. Those are all negatives and that can really wear down any kind of interaction. But especially if you have a child with autism or a toddler showing signs of autism, we want to be extra positive and give those 8 positives to every negative.
Preventative Strategy 2: One Word Times Three
Mary: Okay. Procedure number two is we want to use the one word times three strategy throughout the day with kids with autism or with any child or even an adult with little to no verbal communication. So instead of saying, you know, would you like some ice cold water or say, I want water, please, we want to say water, water, water as we take the bottle of water, which they have to want. I mean, if they're crying that they want lemonade and you're doing the water, that's not the point. It's something that they want, something that's fun or appealing, we're reinforcing. You want to have the bottle of water or the cup of water, you want to say water and then move the item closer if possible, water, move the bottle closer to water and then deliver. We're not holding out. We're not saying, say water. You have to say water. You just said water an hour ago. You said water yesterday. You need to say water. That's a demand that you can't prompt. You can't make anybody say anything ever. So instead, you can just use the one word time's three strategy. Do the same thing for non item things like opening the door. They want to go out toward the swing. Open, open, open. And then you open the door. Now if they do say the word or word approximation on the first try and I say water, they say water or Wawa, give them the water right away. We want to be shaping behavior, positive behavior. We also part of my Turn Autism Around approach is using easy early learner materials like a shoebox with a slit into it. I did a whole video blog about how to pick the cards that go in the shoe box. We can link that in the show notes as well. But we use Shoebox, for Mr. Potato Head, for the inset puzzle. We use the same procedure, the one word up to three times. Strategy. Fish. Fish, fish. As you take the picture of the fish and go closer to the child and then have them help them put it in the slit. These procedures are great, especially at one and two word words that the child interacts with all the time. So as I was looking through these cards, I was seeing things like a nest, an octopus, you know, things like that, like pick words that the child is exposed to and get real pictures of the people in their lives and the reinforcers in their lives and use the one word up to three times strategy throughout the day.
Preventative Strategy 3: Table Time
Mary: Now we have another procedure that is a big part of the Turn Autism Around course and book. And my blogs and my tik-tok videos show that I am a big proponent of table time even for little kids. And I know that goes against what people sometimes think, like, Oh, they're little or they're an early learner, so we should just follow the child's lead. But the problem is, if you don't have an area that is sanitized, meaning not clean or bleached.. Sanitized means not a bunch of fun things all around that are going to compete with you and your reinforcers and your area. Most members of my online course and community report that their kids are like they have to lock the outside of the door of whatever room they're using as the therapy room, because kids just want to do table time. They get positive reinforcement. They get a lot more than eight positives to every negative because every time you give the child a card or say the word, that goes into the positive pile. So these techniques are outlined, like I said in my book, but the best place to really get community support is in my online course. So those are the three preventative strategies and techniques and programs that I would recommend you do eight positives to every negative and then one more times three throughout the day at the table and then away from the table. And then the third one is to get a table and to gather all the early learner materials that I recommend. Those are for kids with little language, not conversational, all the way down to not speaking at all. Those are the preventative strategies.
Reactive Strategy 1: Stop Attention
Mary: Now let's talk about three programs or strategies you can and should use as reactive strategies when we do get problem behaviors. And it's getting in the way of learning because if a child's crying, they're not in a state where they're going to be learning. And I am not a proponent of keeping the demand on using what's known as escape extinction. I don't like nagging procedures. I don't like anything that is going to upset the child, upset the family, upset the school environment. We want to clean the slate as quickly as possible, get out of the problem behaviors to get back to that positive reinforcement state and that state of learning. So here are three reactive strategies that you can use when you do see problem behaviors. And we did do a podcast with Rachel Smith with her typically developing three year old, all about how she got with my advice, she got his major problem behaviors to zero levels of throwing and hitting and really turned things around within a few days with these reactive strategies. So the first reactive strategy is we cannot, we cannot give attention to problem behaviors. Now. If the child is having problem behaviors and they flopped in the middle of a parking lot, you do whatever it takes to get the child safe. If you can pick them up, you pick them up. If you have to bribe them by buying them candy to get them up on their own, that's what you do. So I'm just talking about, you know, more minor stuff that is constantly being reinforced. And also, if your child is having severe problem behaviors that could lead to injury. You definitely want to consult with a behavior analyst, if you can, and a medical doctor to make sure it's not something medical. But the first reactive technique is we cannot give their behavior attention, which is happening all the time. And I think in Rachel Smith's episode 185, which we'll link in the show notes, it was a good example where, you know, Rachel's a Special Ed Master's prepared teacher. She has worked with my son over the years. She has helped me develop the No More Time Out mini course, and she helps me with podcasts and she helps me with all kinds of things. We know what to do, but I haven't in the past taught that much about what to do when the behavior happens, because we want to spend 95% of our time preventing problem behaviors. And so Everett had her son who was actually at my house twice in a row and had major problem behaviors of throwing and hitting. And so I was able to see it firsthand. And I was able to guide her and guide her to help herself and to get back to preventing. So once a child has problem behaviors there, it is no longer a win-win situation. You're not going to be like, I nailed that reactive strategy. You react. It's not going to be perfect. You're going to get out of it as quickly as possible and go back to preventing 95% of the time. But you don't want to give attention by talking to the child, by trying to reason with the child. You don't want to add threats or bribes in the middle of problem behavior. You basically want to not use your voice and not give a lot of physical attention to it. Keep the child safe. But, you know, you might have a burst of crying that you can't attend to. Just like I said in the preventative strategy, you want to be the spoiling grandma. Well, when the problem behavior happens, you actually can't be the spoiling grandma. Not that I recommend yelling, because that's also attention. You just want to go neutral, go firm, keep the child safe. And we don't want to label the problem behavior. We don't want to say, you know, you need to stop kicking you're three years old, you should know better. We don't want to threaten bribe. And we also don't want to say to another assistant, Oh, he's kicking again. That was three more kicks. We also don't want to use clickers to count problem behavior up. That's two more kicks. That's a flop. That's you know, there are schools and residential placements that are using clickers like this to count a bunch of different problem behaviors. And they're putting this stuff on graphs, which is really not helpful. We in my house and with my clients, we spell things. If the child can't spell yet and we don't talk about problem behavior, we don't talk about it when it's happening and we don't talk about it after either. We treat the problem behavior by going quiet, keeping things quiet, and then once we have some quiet and calm without problem behaviors, then we can go back to our eight positives to every negative and it's not going to look perfect. I did say somewhere in the show already, and I'm a big proponent of not having kids cry. They might have to cry for 30 seconds. They might have to cry for 2 minutes or 3 minutes, but then we should get the problem gone, and then we'll have better predictability of how to prevent that next time.
Reactive Strategy 2: Shush and Give
Mary: The second reactive strategy and our fifth procedure we can and should be using is the Shush and Give procedure. Now I created that based on Dr. Vincent Carbone's Count and Mand procedure that if you're a behavior analyst or been in the field for a while or you're a parent who's been in the field for a while, you've probably heard of Dr. Carbone's Count and Mand procedure. The Shush and Give is a more child friendly version and it really does work well. For kids, especially ages 1 to 5, which is really who I help. I help kids ages 1 to 5, really age, chronological age, 1 to 5 year olds and also kids that are older, even teens and adults with moderate severe autism who are functioning in some levels as a 1 to 5 year old in talking, you know what, five year olds are fully conversational. Five year olds can follow three step directions. Five year olds can dress themselves, can eat themselves, are fully potty trained. So if you have areas of issues, then your child or clients are functioning at a lower developmental level. So here's the Shush and Give procedure. So if the child is crying, you're not going to give attention to it like I talked about in strategy number one here. But we also if it's just going to be a say, it's a whine or crying. Some kids respond to shhh and they start to calm down immediately. And you could start this even with a whine like I want the chocolate one.....Okay shhhhh, Say it like this. I want the chocolate one. I want the chocolate one. *softly* Good. And you give it. Now, that's for a child who talks, but for a child who doesn't talk at all yet we can say we can calm even if you have a typically developing baby, "sshhh, shhh good" and then you just label bottle bottle and you give the child the bottle, the shushing gear. Now, if the child can't have something they can't have. Even if you cry and you do the shush they can't have. If you're at a restaurant, the other patrons French fries off their plate. They might be crying about that. They can't have that. Okay. So it's not a shush and give them the fries that they can't have or give them something they're allergic to or give them their fifth donut before dinner. It could be a shush. And then giving them alternatives, you know, maybe two visuals that you can pull out. Okay, you can't have those fries, but we're ordering fries. How about a toy or crayons? Mommy's phone, which I'm not a huge proponent of electronics, and that is a double edged sword. But most of our kids do use some electronics. And if you're out at a restaurant and you need something handy, sometimes that's it. But next time you go to a restaurant, you're going to not have the child starving, you know, really hungry. You're going to bring snacks, you're going to bring toys, you're going to bring things that they like. So you have actually lots of reinforcers that are really high up on their scale of reinforcement. So the Shush and Give is simply shush, get some quiet. Label and give. Now, if the child can repeat and can talk, you might. And typically developing. I want the blue one. Hey. Say it like this. I want the blue one, please. I want the blue one, please. Okay. Tell me again. I want a blue one, please. I've even done it when, you know, Spencer was typically developing and he was six or seven, he'd come in whining about something. I'm like, Hey, buddy, you know what? Why don't you go out? Come back and say it like this? I want the blue one or mom, you know, I'm hungry or whatever. Go back out and just make it kind of a game. And then when you come back in, I want you to say it like this. And he goes out, comes back in, says it like this, and we're all good. So Shush and Give just means you can't have it if you're screaming because that'll just shape it right up. So we need a little pause, even 3 seconds, to give the child to be able to get the item they want or something else that is high on their reinforcement list.
Reactive Strategy 3: Planned Ignoring
Mary: And the last procedure I'm going to talk about, I coined myself, but it is basically planned ignoring. So one of the things you can do is the function of behavior, if the reason why the child is crying is because they want something and they're not calming down with the Shush and Give, they're just really crying or having some kind of problem behavior. Definitely keep the child safe. But as they're crying for 30 seconds or a minute or 3 minutes, you can't just stand there and watch them even if you're not talking, because that's still attention. Right? So it's kind of planned ignoring, I call it the talk among yourselves procedure. So if there's another person in the room, start talking about something, start talking about the weather, start talking about what you're going to do this weekend. And as soon as the child stops crying and approaches or stops crying. He's laying on the floor. He stops crying. Maybe he sits up, you stop your conversation. You attend to him and say, Oh, Johnny, you know, do you want to do the puzzle or do you want to go outside? You just want to reinforce that moment where the child is calm or a lot calmer and can start that 8 positives to every negative again. Now, if you are by yourself, you can do a silent talk among yourself and just use planned, ignoring where you scroll through your phone or you pretend you're writing something. And as soon as a child calms down, you go back into the spoiling grandma mode.
Mary: So in general, we want to use a very child friendly approach. We want to spend 95% of our time preventing problem behavior. And when we are reacting to it, you really need to be careful that you're not shaping up more problem behavior. I usually do not recommend saying I'm sorry or doing social stories about problem behavior ahead of time, that is all attention. So I would check the show notes and listen to that podcast with Rachel. I think that might really be helpful, but in general, we want to really be preventative and positive and once we have to react to something, our goal is to get problem behaviors, major ones at or near zero and keep them there. If they're not staying low or you're not able to get them down, you need more intervention. I've got lots of stuff in my book and my podcasts and my video blogs, but the best way I can help you and my team can help you is through our online course and community, so hope you'll attend a workshop and join us soon. So hopefully that was helpful. If it was, I would love if you would leave an Apple podcast review. You can hit reply to any of our emails about the podcast. You can tell us, I love that episode or I really like the classic rebroadcast, or I really like the top five question series, or I really like this one. I wish you would do more on this or have a question that I can't find your answer to anywhere. Could you address this in the podcast? Let us hear from you and we will make a video. We will make more content to serve your needs better. So hopefully that was fun and useful to you. All the show notes are at, MaryBarbera.com/194. And don't forget to join me next week. If you're not subscribed to this podcast, you can do that. And next week, I have a special announcement about a new assessment that is going to be available to you. And it's going to really help, I think, change a lot for everyone listening and for the whole autism world in general. So I'm super excited. Catch you next week, same time, same place.
Mary: If you're a parent or an autism professional and enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out my online course and community where we take all of this material and we apply it. You'll learn life changing strategies to get your child or clients to reach their fullest potential. Join me for a free online workshop at MaryBarbera.com/workshop where you can learn how to avoid common mistakes. You can see videos of me working with kids with and without autism, and you can learn more about joining my online course and community at a very special discount. Once again, go to MaryBarbera.com/Workshop for all the details. I hope to see you there.
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