Top 8 Tips to Manage Behaviour in a Social Setting

Children

This week Little A was attending multi-activity programme at Camp Asia, which is a 1-week programme from 9am to 3pm. Activities vary every hour with the children participating in activities ranging from sports such as soccer, basketball, athletics, swimming to drama, art and cooking.

The first 2 days were uneventful but by day 3, he started to hit and push some children. We couldn’t hear his side of the story as he couldn’t articulate what happened. Here are some tips to manage behaviour in a social setting.

    1. Help others understand: Before the start of any activity, brief the instructor or facilitator on any sensory challenges eg. dislike loud noises, how your child communicates and coping mechanism. Some children have difficulty making themselves understood, so they use physical behaviour to express themselves such as hitting or pushing. In little A’s case, he was using this to make friends.
    1. Support effective communication: Some children have difficulty understanding what’s being asked of them, or making themselves understood. Even those who speak fluently may struggle to tell you something when they are upset or anxious. Speak clearly, use short sentences and not more than 2-step instructions. This can be accompanied with visual cues for visual learners.
    1. Help to identify emotions: Expressing emotions can seem abstract, so it manifests in undesirable behaviours in social settings. Some tools to turn emotions into more ‘concrete’ concepts could be using stress scales of 1-5, visual thermometer, or traffic light system to represent emotions as numbers or colours. Social stories can also be a useful way to explain how to manage a certain emotion.
    1. Praise and reward: Praise can be given when a desirable behaviour happens eg. when little A was sitting quietly and waiting for his turn at an activity, the teacher praised him and used him as a model for the rest to follow. Little A likes verbal rewards, while other children might prefer a sticker, or 5 minutes extra of doing a particular activity.
    1. Manage change and transition times: Prepping the child on what to expect during the activity, schedule will help to manage the anxiety that comes from the change and transition times. Using a visual timetable can often help the child see what will be happening. The facilitator can also explain what is the next activity.
    1. Find out if the child is being bullied: Speak with the teacher or facilitator to understand what was the social interaction with other children like before the behaviour took place.
    1. Offer a safe space or ‘time out’ area: Suggest to the child that if he/she wants to feel better, he/ she can sit at a quiet corner in the classroom.
    1. Generalise and maintain skills: Teach socialization and coping skills which can help the child manage in different situations. When certain behaviours happen, reinforce the skills by emphasizing what are appropriate behaviours.

 

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