reinforcer depending on the individual and the situation. A reprimand may serve as a punisher for one child, but for the child who is acting out to seek attention, whether positive or negative, the reprimand could be a reinforcer.
greetings, especially if the same routine cannot be used during each session. Harris (2012) stated that anxiety is fear of the unknown. When children do not know what is coming next, they become anxious, which can manifest as challenging behaviors. Structure, along with visual schedules, can alleviate this anxiety and uncertainty.
There are three categories of strategies that can be developed to address challenging behaviors: Teaching a replacement behavior, improving the environment, and adjusting the contingencies (Umbreit et al., 2007). The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning provides a useful planning chart for organizing observation information and strategy ideas (see http://csefel.vanderbilt.edu/modules/ module3a/handout7.pdf). Replacement behaviors accomplish the same function as the challenging behavior, but in socially acceptable ways. Replacement behaviors that may be taught include asking for help or requesting wants; learning how to join a group and respond to aggression and anger; strengthening prerequisite academic skills; and utilizing strategies for self-monitoring behavior. These skills can easily be incorporated into a child’s individual goals for music therapy. Improving the environment refers to changes made that set up an environment for positive behaviors and attempt to avoid possible triggers for challenging behaviors. Strategies for changing the environment include: ‣
Set clear expectations of behavior. Instead of telling children what not to do, tell them what they should do by phrasing expectations positively. For example, say, “Gentle hands,” instead of, “Don’t hit.” Review rules often, either by incorporating them into a social story or posting visual reminders in the therapy room. For young children, pair simple words with pictures or photographs to illustrate the expectations. For some children, using photos of themselves performing the expected behaviors may be effective. Develop a predictable routine for music therapy sessions. Most music therapists already use greeting songs to develop structure. Visual schedules are an easy way to let young children know what will be happening in between
imagine 3(1), 2012
Pictures for visual schedules can be obtained from software such as Boardmaker®, downloaded from the Internet, or taken with a digital camera. The Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Intervention for Young Children provides information on how to create visual schedules in their Teaching Tools for Young Children with Challenging Behavior (see http:// www.challengingbehavior.org/do/resources/ teaching_tools/toc/ folder5/5b_how_make_vis_sched.pdf). For children with vision impairments, tactile schedules can be made using small objects to represent each activity. ‣
Develop techniques for easing transition times. Transitions, especially completing preferred activities or initiating non-preferred ones, are hard for young children. Transition songs can be used to help children transition into or out of therapy areas, to signal the end of activities, or to instruct children to clean up. Therapists can use songs they compose or pre-composed songs such as the ever-popular Clean-up Song by Barney & Friends. Giving warnings is another way to prepare young children for transitions. Warnings can be given based on the number of times the child needs to perform an action before being done (e.g., sing one more song, hit the drum three more times, etc.). If warnings are based on the number of minutes left, it is best to pair them with a visual timer (such as the Time Timer®) as young children do not yet understand the concept of how long time is. Some children need transition objects to help them with transitions. For example, before coming to the music therapy session, the child is given an object that represents music therapy, such as an egg shaker or drum mallet. At the end of the music therapy session, he or she
Published on Aug 29, 2012