The Untapped Power of the Parent in ABA
I remember when my son was younger, I carried around his all time favorite treat in my purse. Before unpacking him from his car seat, I’d show him the treat and talk about what I needed “Walking Next To Mommy; Listening the first time when mommy gives a direction” and then he would earn this tasty treat. It was my Honey and my Busy Bee was hooked. This was not a treat found inside the house or given at random times, it was for church and grocery stores. The two places I needed greater levels of compliance.
Unpacking Parent Training and Education can be that simple. I realize that we, as Behavior Analyst’s, use words that sometimes require a specialized dictionary and interpretation. But, the goal of parent training and education should always be two fold:
- Understanding that parents need real help with real talk;
- Meeting people where they are.
So no data sheet here, first time around, with parent training. As a therapist, it is a learned technique to show material, arrange reinforcers, block my client (when necessary), and collect data. So I can only imagine being a parent with real life going on trying to figure out what box to check.
It doesn’t mean that writing things down is not important. Remember, meeting people where they are?!? Well, that might just mean asking a parent to give a narrative or description and tell what happened. An important note to remember in Parent Training is to create parents that “Think Like a Behavior Analyst” sans the course sequence, practicum hours, and certification test. 🙂 We want them to use those skills that we teach them enough to analyze their own child; problem solve; think through; and give different consequences to behavior (follow through, plan to ignore, etc.).
But what’s the real roadblock to Parent Training that no one wants to really discuss?!? It’s public perception of the parent…and their child’s behavior. Honestly, you have to be in the mood for public ridicule for your parenting style…and parents are tired.
Back to “Meeting Parents Where They Are”…
The Honey Effect© is a good starting point.
1. What will your Busy Bee be attracted to?
2. Keep it close to you.
3. Show it to them before hand (don’t bribe).
4. Manage Expectations (when we started, I gave my little Bee pieces of Honey every two minutes and I paired my presentation of “honey” with specific praise of “good walking with mommy”). Now we can go through an entire store…and my now 5 year old does not ask for candy, chips….because mommy is associated with being the carrier of Honey).
Honey is theactual reinforcer (edible or nonedible) and because you have carried the ‘honey’ consistently and followed through with the presentation of the honey …YOU are now honey. And Bees are attracted to Honey.
It is simple in theory and requires practice…to maintain your focus as a parent, keep your child safe, and get to the behavior we WANT to see…it’s all about building Momentum.
More to come….
~Landria Seals Green, MA., CCC-SLP, BCBA
Chief Clinical Officer
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