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Session # D2b October 5, 2012. Everyday Strategies for Child Behavior: Empowering Providers and Families and Facilitating Change with a Realistic Approach. Matt Orr, PhD Department of Family & Preventive Medicine University of South Carolina School of Medicine

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Matt orr phd department of family preventive medicine

Session # D2b

October 5, 2012

Everyday Strategies for Child Behavior: Empowering Providers and Families and Facilitating Change with a Realistic Approach

Matt Orr, PhD

Department of Family & Preventive Medicine

University of South Carolina School of Medicine

Collaborative Family Healthcare Association 14th Annual Conference

October 4-6, 2012 Austin, Texas U.S.A.

Faculty disclosure

Faculty Disclosure

I/We have not had any relevant financial relationships during the past 12 months.



  • At the conclusion of this presentation, the participant will be able to:

  • Provide brief, yet rich, education on child development and behavior that engages and empowers parents in change process

  • Integrate practical behavioral intervention strategies that are conducive to primary care-based office visits

  • Identify and tailor brief interventions that fit the needs and abilities of the family and the child with disruptive behavior

Learning assessment

Learning Assessment

A learning assessment is required for CE credit.

Attention Presenters:

Please incorporate audience interaction through a brief Question & Answer period during or at the conclusion of your presentation.

This component MUST be done in lieu of a written pre- or post-test based on your learning objectives to satisfy accreditation requirements.

Moral of the story punch line and bottom line

Moral of the Story, Punch Line, and Bottom Line

If we want to understand how to help children regulate their behavior, we must first understand what the behavior is regulating

Over time

Over Time

  • Goal is long-term growth…

  • Skills that enable the child to adapt to the demands of everyday situations

  • Survival Skills

Nature of behavior

Nature of Behavior

  • Help parents know what they are seeing

  • Empower them with interventions that fit with family’s needs & abilities

    • Think Asthma or Allergies

Three targets over 1 st two visits

Three Targets Over 1st Two Visits

  • Success: Identify in what situations the child does well & put him in them as often as possible

    • Promoting Task Completion & Productivity

  • Activities: Identify what extra-curriculars child is involved in

    • Promoting Development of a Sense of Competence

  • Play: Use Mother Nature (i.e. movement) to set the stage for success

    • Promoting Situational Self-Regulation

Matt orr phd department of family preventive medicine

Excessively Talkative

Defiant & Annoying


Highly Active & Impulsive


Irritable & Cranky

What s out there already

What’s Out There Already

  • “Behavioral Treatment” usually means “Behavior Modification”


Pertinent brain behavior in 2 slides


Pertinent Brain & Behavior (in 2 slides)


Matt orr phd department of family preventive medicine







Internal Thermostat & Control System



  • Regulatory processes = developmental abilities

  • Tasks that must be mastered

  • Preferences & Quirks

  • Goodness of Fit

    • Match between child & environment

Dimensions chess thomas

Dimensions – Chess & Thomas

  • Activity Level:

    • Low________Hyperactive

  • Regulation:

    • Predictable__________Erratic

  • Initial Response:

    • Approach_________Withdrawal

  • Adaptability:

    • Flexible_____________Rigid

Matt orr phd department of family preventive medicine

  • Intensity:

    • Mild-Mannered______Forceful

  • Mood:

    • Cheery____Serious____Irritable

  • Self-Control:

    • Reflective______Impulsive

  • Concentration:

    • Persistent______Distractible

  • Sensitivity:

    • Unbothered________Reactive

Temperament in the clinic

Temperament in the Clinic

Matt orr phd department of family preventive medicine

Dennis MitchellThis superactive young upstart…is active, agile, tireless and hard to catch. He's also inquisitive, imaginative and of an experimental turn of mind, which frequently lands him in situations he can't always control. With his impish grin, he delivers sometimes blunt observations of the truth. While never malicious or mean, the irrepressible Dennis remains a threat to property, the pomposity of adults and quiet afternoons.

Adapted from (2009)

How was dennis punished

How was Dennis punished?

Behavioral strategies establishing boundaries

Behavioral Strategies: Establishing Boundaries

Behavioral strategy 1

Behavioral Strategy #1

  • Grandma’s Rule

    • aka Premack’s Principle

  • First broccoli, then cake

  • After shoes put away, then you can go outside



  • “…and I will sit with you while you finish”

  • “Come on, I’ll walk with you to your room.”

2 modify time outs

#2 Modify Time Outs

3 pro social consequences

#3 Pro-Social Consequences

For more serious offenses

  • Lying

  • Stealing

  • Harming others

  • Make them do “Community Service”

Cognitive strategies teaching problem solving

Cognitive strategies: Teaching problem-solving

Cognitive strategy 1

Cognitive Strategy # 1

  • Turn Should’s into Could’s

  • Creates Options

  • Identifies alternatives & facilitates decision-making

  • Leaves option to “explode”

Cognitive strategy 2

Cognitive Strategy # 2

  • Replacements

  • Must replace undesirable behavior with a more desirable one

Cognitive strategy 3

Cognitive Strategy # 3

  • Rewind

  • “Try that again…”

  • Modifies caregiver response

  • Gives child an opportunity to pause & choose more favorable response

Six skills to survive thrive

Six Skills to Survive & Thrive

Everyday Survival Skills for Kids and Parents

1 modify expectations

1. Modify Expectations

Common complaints

Common Complaints

  • Children do well when they can

  • They do well in some situations but not others

    • “Cannot go into a store without asking for something”

    • “Cannot sit still for more than a minute”

    • “Cannot play outside without getting into an argument”

2 identify success

2. Identify Success

We can only do what we can do

We Can Only Do What We Can Do

Put kids in their element

Put Kids in their Element

The message in the behavior

The Message in the Behavior

  • What’s the message here?

The message in the behavior1

The Message in the Behavior


What s the usual outcome

What’s the Usual Outcome?

Adaptive regulation view

Adaptive Regulation View

  • Behaviors are attempts to adapt to internal signals of discomfort or distress…to self-regulate

    • Stay awake

    • Focus

    • Move

    • Protect

    • Defend

Adaptive vs maladaptive

Adaptive vs. Maladaptive

  • For children, environments (i.e. parents & teachers) determine whether a behavior is adaptive, not whether it helps the child pay attention, sit still, or be compliant

  • Maladaptive behaviors = “symptoms”

3 get moving

3. Get Moving

314 - Piano stairs - - The fun theory.wmv

Play pellegrini et al

Play – Pellegrini et al.

  • Physical activity positively affects classroom attention

  • More calm & relaxed

  • Best in short bursts (20 min. optimum)



  • Sensory system involving stimulation to muscles, joints, & tendons

  • Calms & Organizes

    • Considered queen of sensory systems

    • Helps integrate the entire system

  • Includes Vestibular & Tactile senses



  • Central role in governance of motor control and planning! (i.e. ADHD)

  • Regulates over- & understimulation

  • Stimulation lasts for only 2-3 hours

  • Recess anyone?!

Levels of play

Levels of Play

  • Vigorous Physical Activity – All out free play; sports; game provides the parameters

  • Moderate Physical Activity (think “Indoor”)

    • Boundaries/rules allow for control

    • Play wrestling; indoor trampoline

  • Fidgeting; Soothing Activities

    • Playing with water

    • Fidget toys

Vigorous move soothe

Vigorous – Move & Soothe

  • Team sports (especially soccer)

  • Individual sports (swimming, karate, dance)

  • Predictable after-school activity (play, music)

Move soothe

Move & Soothe

  • Traction

  • Compression

  • Play Wrestling

  • Rough & Tumble Play

Move soothe1

Move & Soothe

Bounce & Balance

4 fidget to focus

4. Fidget to Focus



  • Evidence that physical activity is related to central executive functioning – Working Memory

  • ADHD & Non-ADHD

  • We all fidget to focus

(Rapport et al., 2009)

Move soothe2

Move & Soothe

Playfulness to recalibrate

Playfulness to Recalibrate

Try not to smile when a child is laughing…good luck!

5 apply the breaks

5. Apply the Breaks

  • Chunk tasks into manageable doses with breaks in between

6 background sound

6. Background Sound

Anxiety oriented strategies

Anxiety-Oriented Strategies

Taming the Wizard

Oppositional explosive behavior

Oppositional & Explosive Behavior

Playful (i.e. physical activity) interventions are essential for kids who are:

  • Intense

  • Irritable

  • Insatiable



  • Coach parents to be DECISIVE

  • Refrain from “We’ll see”

  • Plan ahead

  • If plans change, parents must prep the team

  • Critical role in establishing emotionally secure atmosphere

Deflect reflect


  • Situation: Child/Teen is in a fit, riddled with anxious-speak; unhappy with some aspect of self or situation

    • Whining

    • Negative self-talk

    • Complaining

    • Blaming

Deflect reflect1


  • Maladaptive attempt to seek comfort from parent

  • Conflict ensues because parent cannot meet irrational demands

  • “You’re just saying that!”

  • “You don’t understand!”

Deflect reflect2


  • Deflection: “What do you think you are going to do about that?”

  • Reflection: Encourages child to think through/ name a solution

  • At least, sends message “I believe it’s possible for you to be competent”

  • “You can sort this out”





Relax (Flexibility)

Ex: Sleep-Walk Technique

Parent sleep walk strategy

Parent Sleep-Walk Strategy

  • Many parents report significant trouble with bedtime routine

  • Consider “sleep” time vs. bedtime

  • Anxiety does not turn off at bedtime!

  • Not a problem for parents to be part of the bedtime routine; issue is with falling asleep

Parent sleep walk strategy1

Parent Sleep-Walk Strategy

  • Parents need a strategy that allows them to disengageat “sleep” time while still tending to child’s needs for comfort & security

  • Strategy allows parent to progressively disengage from the child when it is time to go to sleep

    • Step-wise

Parent sleep walk strategy2

Parent Sleep-Walk Strategy

  • Child is given a roadmap:

  • After I read to you I am going to

    • Sit on the bed

    • Lay on the floor

    • Sit in the doorway

  • Begin with what child can handle and progress farther away each night or every few days/weeks

Basic behavior management

Basic Behavior Management

  • SOS Help for Parents by Lynn Clark, PhD

  • If you seek easy-to-read&do behavior mgmt training for parents


For further reading

For Further Reading

  • Effective Parenting for the Hard-to-Manage Child: A Skills-Based Book by DeGangi and Kendall (2008)

  • More detailed exploration of some of these ideas and intervention

Play pellegrini et al1

Play – Pellegrini et al.

Holmes, R., Pellegrini, A., & Schmidt, S. (2006, October). The effects of different recess timing regimens on preschoolers' classroom attention. Early Child Development and Care, 176(7), 735-743. Retrieved September 15, 2009, doi:10.1080/03004430500207179

Pellegrini, A., Dupuis, D., & Smith, P. (2007, June). Play in evolution and development. Developmental Review, 27(2), 261-276. Retrieved September 15, 2009, doi:10.1016/j.dr.2006.09.001

Pellegrini, A., & Holmes, R. (2006). The Role of Recess in Primary School. Play = learning: How play motivates and enhances children's cognitive and social-emotional growth (pp. 36-53). New York, NY US: Oxford University Press. Retrieved September 15, 2009, from PsycINFO database.

Session evaluation

Session Evaluation

Please complete and return theevaluation form to the classroom monitor before leaving this session.

Thank you!

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