Let’s talk about communication:
With COVID-19 continuing to be an issue, schools are under constant pressure to reassess whether students will return to meet face to face in the fall.
Regardless, there are things that parents and caregivers can be doing while our children are at home with us.
The Journal of Behavior Analysis in Practice 1 recently released an article discussing the importance of functional communication:
“Functional communication skills are essential for all learners and must be promoted within all environments, including the home. During this time of home confinement, many families will need to look at opportunities for their children to use existing functional communication skills or even to acquire new skills. This article describes a set of 9 critical communication skills and provides a variety of examples of how families can improve the use of these important skills. Some of these involve speaker (expressive) skills, whereas others involve listener (receptive) skills.”
How to communicate better with your child:
Within the article you will find the 9 different skills and examples of situations when each skill should be used.
For example, teaching and reinforcing how to say “no” or reject. When your child does not want something, be that food or involvement in some sort of activity, they may struggle with how to appropriately articulate that they don’t want anything to do with it.
This may look like screaming, becoming physical and/or swatting etc. At a time when tensions are not so high, speak with your child about shaking their head no, or saying “no, thanks.” You can also associate the need to reject or say no with some sort of card or item that your child can use to signify they want to reject.
Something to keep in mind:
When teaching your child, keep the scaffolding approach in mind. Scaffolding consists of building up to more intense skills, or in this case, helping your child learn to reject items or events that only cause mild discomfort before working on those that cause deep fear.
This may be learning how to say no to oranges at first. With time, you can build up to more difficult situations that your child struggles with such as, saying no to spaghetti sauce that has onions in it.
Remember, scaffolding should be a win-win for both child and parent. Don’t rush the process.
One for the road:
So, while you’re at home with the kiddos, take this opportunity to help your children hone some of these important functional communication skills. Doing so will put them a few steps ahead of the game when it comes time to get back to school. Plus, it will help you avoid a lot of blowups at home too.