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So which behaviors do I address first?

When parents and educators discover that behaviors can be broken down into a list of reds and greens, one of the most-often asked questions is: "So which behaviors do I address first?"

Address those behaviors that are happening very frequently and are causing the most difficulties for the people around them.


Usually, my response is "address those behaviors that are happening very frequently and are causing the most difficulties for the people around them."


For example, if a child keeps interrupting conversations constantly (every 3 minutes) and his peers are getting really annoyed, I'd address that as soon as possible. Perhaps he also has to learn to stop asking the same question again and again, but he only asks repetitive questions approximately 3 times a day. Since the 'interrupting' is a more pervasive problem, I'd address that first.


Suppose your child complains about boredom at home, say twice each evening, and he also throws temper tantrums that are noisy as they are lengthy. These tantrums are very disruptive to the tranquility and peacefulness in your home, and they can be triggered any time you say 'NO' to your child. I'd probably address the tantrums first, and the difficulty with self-occupying later.


If you can't decide which behavior is 'the most disruptive', pick any behavior and work on it for now. As soon as you are seeing progress on that behavior, add the next one on your list.

Don't get stuck just because you couldn't decide. Oftentimes, there is no right or wrong answer!

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