Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Incompatible Behaviours

Behaviour therapists will tell you that the best way to correct an unwanted behaviour is to replace it with an incompatible behaviour.  The example usually used is to prompt a child to clap when they're flapping their hands.  It's impossible to both clap and handflap at the same time and clapping is more socially acceptable.

Coming up with a suitable incompatible behaviour taxes my creative powers but I had a good one yesterday.

We were at the dentist for Nathan and he kept reaching up to fidget with the tools.  When I told him to keep his hands on his tummy, he started pushing them inside the waistband of his pants.  So I needed to come up with a behaviour which would prevent both fidgeting with the dentist's tools and putting his hands in his pants.

My solution: hook his thumbs in his belt loops, like a cowboy.

It worked.  As long as he had the thumbs in the loops, he couldn't stick his hands in his pants or reach the tools.  And if a hand drifted up, I just reminded him to put the thumb back in the loop.

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