Category Archives: Behavior

Ideas in this section come from some of the nation’s most prestigious behavior management experts. You will find a collection of easy to follow procedures that will allow you to redirect children’s behaviors in positive ways.

Practice Personal Organization to Facilitate Life

From time to time, I return to my roots as an educator. Through the years, many self-proclaimed and medically diagnosed students with ADHD crossed my path. Ultimately, I realized that my husband fit the category.

Although I confess that I seldom attempt to “remediate” my husband, I sometimes apply former practices to help with ortanizational challenges. In fact, categorizing, sorting, and organizing remain important to my own sense of well-being. Family and friends sometimes suggest that my “obsession” with organizing stems from deep seated control issues. So be it!

Even for those without ADD/ADHD, personal organization can make a big difference in efficient and effective living. Below, I share some suggestions, which I continue to find useful others and to myself.

General Suggestions for Efficient Living

  • I like to add tabs to important sections of books and notebooks to help locate needed information.

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Helping Without Taking Responsibility for Homework

I am grateful to Amy Campbell, school counselor from the Rawson Saunders School for Dyslexia for making another contribution to this blog. Her words about homework provide guidance to parents and grandparents who want to help.  Thank you, Amy.


Knowing how to best support children with their homework can be a complex task that can sometimes leave parents looking for help. Here are some general things to consider when approaching homework with kids:

Remember it is your child’s homework (not your homework) and communication is key. I encourage parents to think of their role in homework as “the guide on the side.” Providing some support can be appropriate, but if you feel that your child needs a lot of support or hovering, let the teacher know.   Additionally, incomplete or incorrect homework can help provide authentic insight to teachers about many things that could be happening in a student’s learning process.
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Organize, Color Code, & Prompt for Attention

Organizing the Environment for Attention Challenges

After spending my life immersed in education, I find it difficult to turn my back on thoughts about special children. This post focuses on adjusting the learning environment to help children with attention challenges. I invite homeschool parents and all other teachers to consider the thoughts below.

Whether you teach in a regular school environment or in a home school setting, you want to do everything possible to help an ADHD student stay focused. The following ideas will help.

  • Keep the environment surrounding the student as clear from distractions and movement as possible.
  • Display five or fewer “expectations” or rules. Too many rules overwhelm a child.

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Do ADHD Brains Function Differently?

Years ago, I worked with a young boy whose labels included gifted and talented, learning disabled, and ADHD with hyperactivity. One morning while waiting in the cafeteria for school to start, this boy turned over an entire cafeteria table with seats attached. The principal, in an effort at fairness and understanding, said, “Bob, I know your medication had not taken effect. It’s OK.” What happened? Was it really OK given the child’s disabilities?

Imagine a filter in the brain. The filter screens out excess sensory input. In most people, the filter works automatically when needed. Children diagnosed with ADHD have sluggish filters. Even when bombarded with excess noise, sights, or feelings, the filter does not do its job. The child feels flooded with sensations.

Stimulants such as caffeine and drugs such as Ritalin give a boost to the sluggish portion of the brain. One perplexed teacher offered a warm cup of coffee to a hyperactive child who mellowed out rather than becoming more active. With the jump-start, glucose utilization improves and the child with ADHD reacts more normally in terms of attentiveness, impulsivity, and excessive movements. Continue reading

Provide Support for Homework: Avoid a Battle

Homework can be an activity to build trust or it can create a battlefield. Amy Campbell, the counselor at the Rawson Saunders School for Dyslexia shares ideas with parents. I am grateful to Amy for sharing her important ideas on my blog.

 Provide Support for Homework: Avoid a Homework Battle

Many parents inquire about the best way to support children with their homework (Thank you, parents!). Here are some general points to consider on how to make the most of homework time and facilitate a beneficial and hassle-free homework routine:

Create family learning time– Children develop attitudes about learning from their family. Show children that you value learning! Set aside a time each day to model the value of learning by enjoying a book, article, or webinar while your children do their homework. Continue reading

When Is Saying “I’m Sorry” Not the Best Action?

Anger can be a healthy reaction to inappropriate or unwanted events. Although I never condone hurting someone or breaking possessions during a fit of anger, I believe anger can be positive when expressed appropriately.

Alternatives for Expressing Anger

Offer the following alternatives to an angry child who hurts himself, others, or property. Say, It’s OK to be angry. I am not willing for you to hit but I am willing for you to show me how angry you are by _____. Explain a few methods such as the following ideas.

  1. Demonstrate anger with clay (kinesthetic).
  1. Draw a picture showing what the anger looks like (visual).
  1. Talk into a tape recorder to tell about the anger (auditory).
  1. Write and then destroy an anger letter (tactile).

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Do We Control or Empower?

During the times when life seems to roll over and crush me, I find personal strength in considering my choices. By recognizing options, I find that I can mobilize myself into positive behaviors. I believe children experience the same empowerment when provided legitimate choices concerning behaviors. Isn’t that what we really want? Don’t we want our children and grandchildren to identify positive choices that propel them toward healthy growth? Instead of controlling or manipulating children, we can provide opportunities for them to either make good choices or live with the consequences.

Allowing a child to determine choices reduces resistance and promotes self-responsibility. Create choices that offer genuine positive and acceptable alternatives. Saying, You may listen or lose your treat offers no choice at all. Stretch your own thinking to offer real, legitimate choices that do not involve punishment and will be agreeable to both you and the child. Keep in mind that you do not have to punish a child to effectively redirect. The following examples suggest types of acceptable choices. Continue reading

How Can We Teach Personal Responsibility?

As a mother, a teacher, and now as a grandparent, I realize how much children want and need sensible limits. I also appreciate that the way adults set limits and redirect behaviors makes a big difference. I want my grandchildren to recognize that life works on a system of consequences. Even more important, I want the children to learn ways to manage their own behaviors. Consequences and solutions toward self-management go together.

The last time I wrote about behavior management, I suggested that consequences that make sense to children produce much better results than punishments such as spanking or yelling. Punishments produce resentment. Consequences should connect to behaviors in ways that seem reasonable to the child. A consequence provides a way for a child to learn and take responsibility. The child realizes, “When I do ____, ____ results.” Matching the consequence to the behavior makes the difference. However, solution thinking beats both punishment and consequences. Continue reading

What Do You Mean — No Punishment Needed?

Logical and Natural Consequences

One of the most cherished beliefs in parenting and in teaching insists that we must punish children. Punishments require little thought. However, when children fail to see a relationship between their behavior and your punishment, they feel resentful. On the other hand, consider the following idea.

Although we do not need to punish children, we must help children make connections between actions and resulting consequences.

The more that consequences (negative or positive) fit behaviors, the greater understanding children can gain. Most parents and teachers want to promote self-responsibility in children rather than to force compliance through fear. When your consequences make sense to a child, you provide a learning opportunity.

The following examples demonstrate the differences in natural consequences (which occur with no action from you) and logical consequences (which require some participation on your part). Continue reading

Help Others Hear You With— ‘I’ Messages

How often have I expressed a thought or feeling and realized my remark offended someone? Often my delivery rather than the actual message caused the glitch. Fortunately, Dr. Gordon, a psychologist, provides us with a simple communication guide. When I remember to follow Gordon’s “formula,” a positive outcome usually results.

 Who’s Upset? The Upset Person Owns the Problem

You have a right and responsibility to take care of your needs and wants. You also have a responsibility to communicate in a way that gets the message across without hurting or frightening others. Consider the following example.

You notice Travis carving his initials on a desk. Travis loves carving.

  • Who owns the problem?
  • You own the problem. You feel upset. Travis feels great.

No matter how justified anger may be, if you cannot communicate acceptance, you waste your time and energy. Also, avoid accusations such as, You are making me feel . . . (In truth, no one can make you feel anything.)  Continue reading