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The little BIG Thing about Follow Through


It was wonderful meeting and getting to know what a Behavioral Therapist do. I thought only children with learning challenges need them. Boy was i wrong! EVERY parent and teacher need them.


Behavioral therapists have super powers when it comes to observation. Or maybe just the one i met in particular. In two hours, she could tell me this child might have an aggression issue and that child need this correction even the teachers have got tips on how to manage better! My biggest take-away that i wanted to share with you... an important but often over-looked little detail when we communicate with others - following through.


It means making good of what we say. "If you cannot follow through with an instruction, don't instruct. Phrase your sentence in a request. When you instruct, expect compliance or you will have to physically prompt the child to follow through. Otherwise, you are just conditioning the child not to listen because there are no consequences for not complying."



My light bulb moment.


Example, Jane left the toys on the floor without tidying up and off she went to play with the ball. Mom sees the toys spread all over the floor and tells Jane "Jane, pick up the toys and put them where they belong before you play with the ball." Jane looked up and continued to play with the ball. Mom repeats her instruction. No reaction from Jane.


Suggested action from Mom - once the instruction was given, when Jane did not comply, walk over to Jane and guide her to where the toys lay. Once an instruction is given, expect compliance. If not, physically prompt. Once, twice, thrice... they will know you mean it. Consistency is another thing to be mindful about here.


Otherwise, use "Jane, would you like to tidy up your toys now or in five minutes?" For sure Jane will say five minutes. Mom sets the timer for five minutes and when the timer rings, Jane will tidy up. An illusion of autonomy is given here for the objective is to have Jane tidy up her toys but the choice was given to either do it now or later. Nobody likes to be told what to do. Everyone is happier for it! Oh, do remember to praise Jane the way she likes to be praised! All behaviors that you want to encourage needs to be noticed and positively reinforced.


It is the following through part that most people including myself forget sometimes. Over time, we are conditioning ourselves and the children not to take us seriously.


We have our super power therapist visiting every week to help give our teachers tips and help children who need special one-to-one sessions. Teresa Ling holds a Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western New England University in Massachusetts, United States. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), with a total of 8 years experience working with individuals with ASD in Malaysia as well as in the United States.



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