By: JJ Mejasic OTR/L

While the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are full of parties, dinners, shopping, and all around excitement for children, they often require your family to disrupt their usual routine, which can be difficult for some children. They may have to stay up later than usual and spend time with a lot more people – like visiting family and friends.

Unfortunately, these changes may bring out difficult behaviors in your child that you don’t know how to handle and can cause you, as a parent, extra stress during the holiday season. Fortunately, we’re here to help.

One of the major challenges most parents have at home is handling difficult behaviors from their children. Behavior modification techniques provided by the parent can assist a child with consistency and help a child gain the skills needed to manage their behaviors throughout their day.

Here are some behavior modification techniques that can be used for your child not only during the holidays but year-round:

Active ignoring

Actively ignoring the minor negative behaviors/perceived attention-seeking behaviors. This will involve paying no attention to when your child is misbehaving and waiting for the positive behavior. Give immediate positive attention when the desired behaviors resume.

Having clear expectations

Make sure your child clearly knows what is expected of them. You should sit them down and explain verbally or by using a visual (e.g., book) of what is expected so there are no misunderstandings.

Positive reinforcement

Give frequent and specific positive reinforcement for expected and positive behaviors. Furthermore, providing your child with positive reinforcement for demonstrating appropriate behavior will help maintain good behavior in the future.  

Transition time

Prepare your child for transitions using verbal prompts (e.g., 5 minutes, 2 minutes, etc.) and continue to remind them until time is up. Try using a timer or visual (coloring in “x” chart after each minute) for transition time.

Always be consistent and clear with your expectations for your child. As often as possible, talk to them about the feelings and emotions they are experiencing, which can be different during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Be their best role model and make sure they know that you are there for them.

Sensory Process Disorder (SPD)

Sometimes, children have difficulty integrating the sensory information received by their central nervous system in order to produce appropriate motor and behavioral responses. SPD can manifest itself in a variety of ways, and how your child is treated during therapy depends on a number of factors, like whether the child’s behavior is sensory seeking or sensory avoiding. You can learn more about SPD on our website.

For more information about behavior modification or to find out how we can help your child through speech-language, occupational, or feeding therapy, contact us today!