Observe your child in a variety of activities or settings. Examples include playtime alone or with a friend, homework time, mealtime and bedtime. It’s also a good idea to take a close look at the morning routine of waking up and getting ready to leave the house.
Pick one of these times and take notes on what you’re seeing every day for two weeks. Ask yourself during this period whether your child’s behavior is similar to that of his peers. Look for patterns. Does he behave in a specific way during certain activities or in certain settings?
Try to pinpoint problem areas, such as getting from the bedroom to the breakfast table in a timely manner. Then talk with your child about the problem and work on a solution together.
What you can say
“Jacob, I noticed this week that you’re having a difficult time switching from playing outside after school to coming in on time to clean up for dinner. How about I come out and warn you 10 minutes before you have to come in? This will let you know it’s time to start winding up your game.”
“Then I’ll call you in another five minutes so you can have time to put your soccer ball away. Do you think that would make it easier? Let’s try that today and see if it helps you finish up your game and be ready to come in on time.”
Why this will help
The more you understand what might be causing some of your child’s negative behaviors, the more you’ll be able to tailor strategies to help your child change those behaviors. Keeping a journal can help you figure out which strategies are working and under what conditions.
A journal is also useful when talking with your partner or sharing information with teachers or other professionals. Your notes can help you be more specific when describing your child’s behavior patterns. Your observations can also help everyone get a better sense of how your child is responding to certain strategies.
Learn more about how to observe your child and how to organize your notes.