Its so easy to be negative. You see a negative behavior, and the first thought can be: “O.K., How do I punish her so she’ll stop?” But it doesn’t work. Punishment breeds anger, and that doesn’t get you very far. And, in my experience, children with Down syndrome lap up negative attention like a cat coming out of the burning sun.
I happened to watch the movie “Pollyanna” with my son the other day. Funny as it sounds, I had never seen the film. And it gives a clear message: The POWER of positive reinforcement.
PBS is short for Positive Behavior Support. In this system, the focus is not on punishment, but on supporting and encouraging good behavior. Experts on Down syndrome have told me how important it is to center on promoting what we want, and not punishing the bad.
So the first thing that should come to mind when a kid misbehaves should be:
-“What do I want?”
-“How do we get there?”
So when I saw Ricki getting dressed for the umpteenth time in front of the living room window yesterday, it suddenly hit me: Yelling at her that this is a public place is not working. She KNOWS that. For some reason she wants to get dressed there. So now I have to analyze the situation, figure out what is going on, and make a plan. Because negative attention just DOESN’T do it.