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  • Writer's pictureHannah's Hope

Meaningful Praise.

Arizona Autism United posted an article in December of last year on their website, titled "How Meaningful Praise Can Improve Challenging Behaviors," that included some good information on how to praise your child in your meaningful way to improve and encourage both positive and negative behaviors. They offer an approach to behavior coaching called Clinical Family Coaching. They started this program with the mission of improving the stability of family lives by identify high priority behavior challenges and teaching family members how to use effective behavior change methods. Their program is for children, adolescents, or teenagers with autism and their parents and/or guardians. They get referred if there is an instance of self-injury, physical aggression, noncompliance, extreme tantrums, or running away from caregivers. The first principle they discuss in the program is high quality praise because it is one of the fastest and most effective ways to create behavior change. They list five simple changes that you can make in in order to create a behavior change in your child. The first change is to be specific. If you like what your child is doing and you approve of a certain behavior, let them know. For example, if your child cleans their room after you asked, you can say, "Good job cleaning your room the first time I told you to," so that your child knows exactly what they are being praised for and what behavior is appreciated. The next tip is to be genuine. Children can tell when their parents are not being authentic, so be genuine in your praise and let them know that you appreciate their behavior and are proud of their good effort. Next, when delivering praise to your child, be close to them. Go to them, make eye contact, and be sure that you have their attention so know that they heard and understood your praise. Make sure to be immediate with your praise; as soon as they show a behavior that you approve of, praise them. It works best to pair the praise with the behavior as soon as it happens or is happening to ensure they know what they are being praised for and will hopefully ensue change. Lastly, add touch when you are giving praise. Positive touch will reinforce your words and add a boost of oxytocin to their brain; it will offer a natural mood booster and give them a warm and fuzzy feeling and ensure they feel good about the behavior you are praising. For example, you can create a fun handshake that you and your child can do when they do something great. These are just five simple things that you can do to praise your child and bring about behavior changes that will benefit you, your child, and your family.

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