Social Emotional Supports
Social Emotional well-being is vital to every student’s life and academic success. During the pandemic and other stressful events, it is important to ensure students have social emotional support at school, at home and in the community. The adjustment counselors, nurses, teachers and administrators at every school are available during school hours to assist student and families with their social emotional needs, strategies and resources.
The resources below are both local and national agencies, many of which are open 24 hours 7 days per week. These agencies offer help to adults and children with social emotional, health and safety needs.
Proactive Approaches to Behavior
All children and teens require high level of structure:
• Common daily routines
• Clear cues of what will happen
• Includes where things go, when things are allowable versus not, what is happening next
• Black & white, clear expectations
• Expectations that stay the same
• No matter what, where, or who
• Frequent practice and review
• Consistent follow through by adults
Clear and consistent structure allows your children to feel safe, as they know what to expect, and when.
A proactive approach allows you to:
• Anticipate stressful situations
• Set expectations beforehand
• Practice and reward pro-social behavior
• Prevent behavioral episodes, including crises
• Know how to respond and maintain safety if a crisis occurs
Essential components of a proactive approach:
• Reduces attention to challenging behavior
• Focuses on quality of interactions
• Models appropriate behavior
• Avoids power struggles
• Maintains a calm environment
“In order to change other’s behavior, you must change your behavior first.” – Eve DiPietro, MS BCBA
Positive Behavior Supports in the Home
Creating a Family Team Plan
As parents, we are the biggest influences on our child’s behavior. What we say, do, and how we respond to our children’s behavior has a lasting impact. Having a family plan allows parents to respond to behaviors consistently and allows the whole family to function as a team to have a successful day.
Hold a family meeting.
Having the entire family (everyone who lives in the home) be a part of the plan’s development is essential in getting everyone to agree to the plan. It creates an environment that focuses on team work and togetherness. Family meetings are also excellent learning opportunities for your children; children learn how to communicate with others, think critically, and express their ideas. Many parents would be surprised at what their children already know!
Create a set of family rules.
By creating rules, it gives the family areas to focus on. Focus on 3-4 rules for the family, or less if you will be spending a lot of time teaching how to follow them. State rules positively and avoid rules that tell family members what not to do (“Be safe” versus “Don’t break things”). Allow everyone at the table to have input on rules and decide on what is most important for your family at that time. Keep in mind that EVERYONE in the house, parents included, will need to follow the rules.
Decide how following rules will be rewarded.
Rewards don’t have to be big, but there should be recognition for those who are able to follow the rules. Make rewards opportunities for positive family time together, such as an extra game night, or a TV dinner. Allow everyone at the table to have time to give ideas, and respond positively to each, even if they are unrealistic (“I like how you’re thinking, but we need to come up with ideas that don’t cost money. Is there a way we can use what we have to do something similar?”).
Decide on consequences for rule infractions.
Consequences for breaking rules should be pre-planned, to avoid major power struggles later or emotional responses from tired parents. It also helps to know what is expected ahead of time, so your child knows exactly what they are avoiding. Consequences should be logical, and directly linked to the infraction itself (“if you are unsafe playing outside, you will have to come inside”). Consequences should never be more severe or significant than the infraction itself. Keep in mind that EVERYONE in the house, parents included, will be subject to the same consequences.
Make it visual!
Make it a family project to create a way to put the plan in writing. For younger children, or children with more complex learning needs, a poster with pictures might be best. For teens or older children, writing out a contract that the family signs together.
Keep in mind that this will be new to everyone. Parents and other adults in the home should be the role models for the plan. Show your children how to follow the rules, and spend more time recognizing rule following, than worrying about rule breaking.