Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pairing: Your best relationship with a child

I've been thinking a lot lately about a concept called "pairing".  This is the process of "pairing" yourself with reinforcement so that a child or learner regards you as a positive experience in his or her life.  Before placing instructional demands on a learner, a trusting and rewarding relationship must be established.  Best results can only be achieved when a child enjoys spending time with you!

Ways to do this:

--- Start with FUN!  Find what is reinforcing to the child and supply it!, with no expectations.  Best of all is to find what is fun (or funny) to the child in play -- tickle, chase, fall over (yes, sometimes you being the clown is hilarious and endearing!!)  Is there a favorite song or comforting tune the child prefers?  Maybe it's a tangible item- if the child loves goldfish crackers, be the one who has them, if the child is fascinated by spinning objects, have the best ones!  Be the bearer of all good things!

--- Be in control of the reinforcing item or activity, so that the child has to go through you to get it.  (Examples, you have access to desired treats and entertainment, toys are out of reach, you play the most fun games like tickle, airplane, or I gotcha)

--- Do not supply or offer reinforcement if the child is engaged in any problem behavior (you don't want to reinforce the wrong behavior).

How do you know if you are "paired" with a child/learner?  Simply put --

    Does the child approach you or avoid you?

Hopefully, he or she runs to you with excitement!  But if not (and it can take time), keep working on being a positive, fun, rewarding addition to the child's life.

Dawn Gummersall
Speech/Language Pathologist

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