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Autism news: This “trick” can help to curb demanding behavior...Behavior Problems Part 9
March 27, 2020

I hope you and your family are well and safe during these difficult times. While many of us must stay home as much as possible due to quarantines, it becomes even more important to manage our children’s behavior well for their sake and for the sake of everyone’s sanity...🙂

In my last message, I discussed demanding behavior and what we can do to discourage it in our children. I mentioned that I would tell you about the one trick we use to help my son get out of that rut of insisting on his own way.

I called it a “trick”, but it’s actually a common, everyday way of helping kids learn how to get along. It’s the tried-and-true principle of taking turns.

Taking turns is one of those basic, foundational rules that just about every parent and teacher turns to for helping children learn to function in life. Not only that, speech therapists also use this technique a lot because turn-taking helps kids learn the basics of the give and take of conversation.

My two sons love to listen to music. They both love to pick out a favorite album to hear. So I have them take turns choosing the album they want to listen to.

We have noticed, however, that when my younger autistic boy has more than one turn in a row, he gets used to having his way VERY quickly. In fact, if he has even TWO turns in a row, that’s all it takes to get him used to having his way.

At that point, it’s a LOT harder to get him to give his brother a turn.

So we’ve found that we have to be very consistent about taking turns. It’s become so important that if my older son can’t decide which album to choose, then I have to make a choice, just for the benefit of my younger son.

I realize that the principle of taking turns won’t apply in every situation, such as the case I mentioned in my last message of Johnny who screams for candy in the store. But in cases where it does apply, taking turns can help our kids learn that other people’s needs and desires are important, too.

It’s quite amazing to see the difference in my son when we consistently enforce the turn-taking rule.

He’s a lot more open to giving his brother a turn when we stick with it, even when it’s not convenient. And when he still insists on his own way from time to time, I find that his behavior is much easier to correct if we are consistent with this rule.

I think this difficulty has a lot to do with an autistic person’s tendency to easily get into a rut or pattern of behavior.

But regardless of the reason, taking turns just works. It actually helps to get him into a better “rut”—one in which he can learn to be more considerate of the wants and needs of others.

I hope this tip will be of some help with managing behavior in your home.

You might even be able to practice taking turns by playing a board game with your child. It could even help to pass the time and keep everyone entertained if your family is under quarantine.

Until next time, stay safe and stay well.

Warm Regards,

Kay Donato

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