I'm going to get a little technical today, but I'll do it first, just to get it out of the way. Antecedents. It's not a common word, but it is one that we've dealt with plenty of times, especially if we have misbehaving children. An antecedent is anything that happens before a behavior occurs. It could trigger a positive or negative behavior or nothing at all. Most of us call antecedents triggers. The only difference is that some antecedents won't trigger behavior.
But, I digress. Here are some examples of antecedents (triggers):
Antecedent #1: "Time for a snack," Mom yells. Kids come running to the table and sit for a snack.
Antecedent # 2: "No, it's not time for a snack," Mom tells them.
"I'm HUNGRY! I WANT A SNACK!" the kids yell while they cry.
Antecedent #3: "Are you hungry?" Mom asks.
"No, not really," the child answers.
We sometimes refer to antecedents as triggers because they trigger a behavior to happen.
Saying "no" may cause your child to tantrum. Taking a toy away may cause your child to cry. Going to a loud party may cause your child to withdraw. Giving your child a hug may cause her to relax and smile.
Sometimes triggers aren't obvious, such as when we go out in public and sights, sounds, and touches may cause the behavior to surface. Sometimes we don't see it because we aren't in the same room.
Once we do figure out what the trigger is, we can try to fix the situation. There are times when we can get rid of the trigger and try to ease into the situation so the trigger isn't as affecting. An example of this might be using a warning to let your child know she has five minutes left until it's time to leave.
Other times, we can't remove he trigger. People will say no; we will have to go to the store at some point; or we just can't control everything. That's when we need to help our children learn what to do when this happens.
Example: Mark always gets upset when he has to stop watching TV. Here are some suggestions.
Think about what triggers your child's challenging behavior. Is there anything you can do to prevent it? If not, how can you help your child deal with the situation when he doesn't like it?
If it helps, write down your thoughts and observations and see if you can find a pattern. Things aren't always as they seem! Join me next week :) Happy behaving!!