Behavior management is one of those topics that we could probably talk about every other week, because it’s something that is relevant ALL THE TIME. A good behavior management system is a must, but can also be very tricky depending on your caseload.
First, education. We all need to LEARN about behavior and the function of those behaviors in order to effectively manage it. Luckily, ASHA’s current monthly case study course is titled “Turning Problem Behavior into Effective Communication” and is very applicable to school SLPs. Hurry, it expires at the end of February! You can access the course HERE.
I also found a SIG 16 Perspectives from January 2015 that covers this topic as well, with two articles about behavior management in the therapy room. If you are a SIG 16 member, you can access it for only $5… and you get CEUs! And bonus…one of the articles was written by fellow SLP blogger, Lyndsey Zurawski from Speech to the Core! If you aren’t sure about the value of Perspectives, read this post I wrote previously!
So, what works? That’s a complicated question! Here’s what we agreed was necessary, no matter what your caseload looks like:
- Clear expectations…make sure those rules are posted and that your students know what is expected
- Being flexible…always easier said than done, but you have to learn to pick your battles!
- Visuals…lots of our kids have trouble with understanding language, so providing the visuals they need are important
- Thinking outside the box…some kids need sensory breaks, so provide an opportunity for movement (this also goes back to being flexible)
- Setting limits…it IS ok to say no
- Find what the student likes…use their interests to motivate them to do their best
Some people mentioned bribery, and that one can be really polarizing for educators. It’s best for students to find intrinsic motivation to complete tasks, but rewards can be great if used wisely. Meaning…no, you can’t get a jellybean every time you answer a question. I’m not a huge proponent of using food as a reward, especially not candy, but I know many therapists and teachers do. As long as your school’s administration and parents are ok with that and it works for you, then go for it. The bottom line is that you have to find what works for YOU and YOUR STUDENTS.
We also mentioned a few products that we liked, here are a few:
I use punch cards for my students in 3rd through 5th grade! These are easy and the kids love getting punches to earn rewards. You can find these HERE.
I also use these listening visuals in my room.
Preschool Learning Targets from Speech Room News are perfect for the little guys on your caseload!
These bracelets from Speech Street are great for providing quick access to visual cues.
I also use this clip chart from Nicole Allison for my K-2 friends!
This packet from The Dabbling Speechie is full of visuals that you can use for your students to manage their behavior! I use the token boards ALL the time!
Whew! That’s a ton of information, I hope you find something that helps you. If you have something that you use in therapy that is behavior management gold, please leave and comment and share!