I have always been so impressed with my son’s ABA therapists. They are so positive! And when I took some training to learn a bit more about ABA I learned this amazing secret that makes these therapists even more amazing. They are taught to give five positive, encouraging comments to every one correction.
When we got a dog a few months ago, we were told that she was highly motivated by treats — and they weren’t kidding! This dog will do anything if there is a treat at the other end of the experience. She will endure a bath and grooming, walk next to you instead of running ahead, and even let you trim her nails — all if you have a treat.
Humans are much the same. We need to have positive interactions with each other to maintain good relationships. If one of your friends starts only having negative “corrective” things to say to you, you won’t be spending much time with that friend. On the flip side, everyone wants to be around someone who builds them up and is happy and positive all the time. Because I already knew these things about human behavior, I got excited when I found out that ABA therapists are intentionally building you up all the time.
I Handle Things Better When They’re Positive
I’ve even noticed them doing the five positives to every one negative comment thing with me. It makes it a whole lot easier to handle a negative comment when it is surrounded with positives. The whole environment is more uplifting. I challenge you to try it yourself. Next time you have something you need to correct with a friend or family member, make sure you have five positive things to say to them.
For example, maybe your husband never picks up his socks. Next time you feel you want to comment on it, first thank him for taking out the trash. Thank him for spending time with the family and for working so hard. Thank him for remembering to bring home the batteries you needed. And thank him for making you laugh. With all these positives, slipping in a small request to please put his socks in the hamper will go over a lot easier. (In our family, I’m the one who forgets to put my socks in the hamper. But I think you get what I am trying to say.)
Try It! You’ll Be Surprised
We are all a lot more likely to repeat behavior that produces a pleasant reward. This kind of positive commentary when making corrections is the best way to keep your child/friend/spouse in a positive relationship with you when corrections must be made.
Right now, I am working on getting everyone in the family to put their shoes in the right place. I am considering putting a small jar of candies on top of the shoe cabinet. Want to guess how successful I will be? If it were the dog, I know her shoes would be put away every time. Wish me luck!
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that this isn't a bad thing. And you or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.