Love It & List It Linky: Behavior Management

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It is that time again for Jenna over at Speech Room News to host her famous Love It & List It linky party.

This month's topic, behavior management.  We are SLPs not behavior therapists…I know I know…but after years of working in a school setting, it is SO important to incorporate some behavior management strategies into your therapy room to make life easier and get the most out of each session.

Some important tips that I have learned over the years:

  • The better you plan and if you prepare for the unexpected, the amount of negative behaviors will decrease.  When I “wing” lessons or lessons “flop,” I find that that is when students act out (talking, arguing, or even just lose focus).
  • It is important to judge per student and group if you can wait until the end to reward or more frequently.  I have some groups that I can give them a sticker or “token” at the end of the session and have them add up to a prize over time.  I have other groups where they are working towards a tiny prize each session because they need to be rewarded/reinforced VERY frequently (every 5 minutes or trials/drills).
  • In the beginning of the year, it is important to learn what the kids like!  What will they be motivated for?  Computer time?  Piece of candy?  A pencil?  I have some groups that all they want is to play a quick game at the end of the session is a motivator enough to work hard the rest of the session!
  • If you say it, stick with it!  Don't just say it!  Kids learn!  If you say you are going to call home or write a note home, do it!  If you say you are going to take something away, do it if they act out again!
  • You can be firm without being mean or scary.  You can still be the fun SLP you want to be!  My students know that if I use my “serious” voice, they have done something wrong!  They know, I don't like to use it!  They also know, if they are good, we will have fun!
  • Do you have one student acting out and ruining it for the rest of the group?  Reward the rest of them!  It is ok to leave that one student out!  You may get tears or some choice vocabulary but in the end, it will work!
  • A lot of times, negative behavior is avoidance behavior.  Is the activity/work too difficult?  Maybe the student is too embarrassed to ask for help or get an answer wrong?!  Try to monitor and see if there is a pattern.  Try to be discrete and help that student out without singling them out.  Make them think they are getting the same difficulty level of work as the others but give them something a bit easier and more on their level, you may find their avoidance/negative behaviors have reduced!  Add some visuals, the whole group could probably benefit from them.  Maybe give them choices to help them get started!
Unfortunately, I cannot share with you some pictures/specific ideas of how I do reward systems in my speech room since I am anonymous and it may give me away!  But I have shared in the past a motivation board I have used with my low functioning students that require immediate reinforcement/reward.  You can learn more about it by clicking HERE!
I hope my tips/suggestions help you!!  Don't fear behavior management…it will make your life so much easier…I promise!