Empower your child to set behavior goals for the upcoming school year with these tips!
As summer comes to a close, parents and children put down the swimsuits and pick up the backpacks to begin another school year. For a child who may have struggled with behavior issues during the previous school year, this time may not be met with excited anticipation, but with nervous uneasiness. How can parents and students plan for a successful start?
Set Academic and Behavior Goals With "I Can" Statements
Before school begins, ask your child to write down (or say) three behaviors that they feel confident about, and three behaviors that they think could use improvement. Children are very observant when it comes to self-assessment, and their insights may surprise you. Ask your child to pick one of the behavior improvement areas and write a few "I can" statements to reinforce the desired behavior, rather than the negative one. (Ex: "I can ask the teacher for a break if I feel myself getting upset.") Let your child know that this "I can" statement is their behavior goal for the school year, and then you can begin setting up systems to monitor, reward or correct throughout the year.
Share This Goal With the Teacher
Before school begins, meet with your child's teacher to discuss the targeted behavior that you and your child have selected, as well as to review the statement that your child has created. The teacher will be thrilled with the contact! You can brainstorm an easy and preferred method of communicating your child's progress, either on a daily or weekly basis. Having this communication set in place before the year begins will help you manage how you choose to reward, or correct, the behavior.
Use a Planner for Immediate Feedback
For older students who see multiple teachers a day, a planner or notebook can be a great tool for tracking period-by-period behavior, as well as for praising the student's progress. For example, at the end of class, a student can discreetly bring up their planner to their teacher, who will give a sticker or smiley face if their behavior has been good. It's also a chance to address any problem behavior if it needed improvement that day. This gives the child immediate feedback on what they've just done, which then helps them self-regulate their behavior more efficiently later on. If they can "see" what they need work on, they are more able to correct the problem area, and when they receive positive praise, they carry that great momentum into their next period.
When students are allowed the autonomy to identify a problematic behavior, they will also feel compelled to be an active participant in making a change. Parents who follow through with teacher contact and classroom monitoring will see a happier and more successful child.