The foundations of self-control -Self Talk

What do you do with a child who is impulsive and has difficulty with one or more of the following?

  • Not paying attention in class
  • Touching someone else’s things
  • Leaving a room messy and dirty
  • Getting your brother or sister in trouble on purpose
  • Playing a computer or video game without permission
  • Whining
  • Passing notes in the middle of class
  • Starting a fight
  • Gossiping
  • Not flushing the toilet
  • Forgetting something needed for class
  • Losing your temper
  • Interrupting other students
  • Saying something rude
  • Being disrespectful to a teacher or parent when upset

Last week I mentioned the Process Model of Self-Control. In order to use this model, there are foundational skills that children need to learn first. Eventually, they will use the foundational skills together with the process model tricks.

Foundational Skill #1: Self-Talk – which literally means talking to yourself, either quietly or out loud, and reminding yourself what behavior you need to do.

How do we teach it? 1. Modeling, 2. Practicing, and 3. Reinforcing self-talk.

Here’s an example. Say your child or student (by the name of Leah) touches stuff that doesn’t belong to her. You want to teach her to use self-control and keep her hands to herself. Tell Leah that you’re gonna do a “puppet show.” Here is the puppet show in which you are modeling self-talk. By the way, the more dramatic and funnier you are when modeling, the better kids will remember what you taught them. 1.Model: Hmmmm. I see a cool rainbow pop-it on my sister’s bed. I wanna try it. Ooops. Stop! It’s not mine. Lemme ask her if I can try it. “Sarah, may I please play with your rainbow pop-it?” 2.Practice: Ok Leah. Now it’s your turn to do this puppet show. 3.Reinforce: As soon as Leah finishes the puppet show, praise or reward her for doing it.

Quick little tip: Model self-talk for as many behaviors as is necessary. Feel free to use the list above, such as paying attention in class, fighting, whining, etc., or use behaviors that your child or student is struggling with. Then have the child copy your puppet show so that they can practice and get reinforced for it.

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