ABA is not really a checklist. It’s a way of approaching situations, and each situation is unique. However, there are some very powerful and simple things you as a parent can be saying each day that get to the heart of ABA practice. I know our parents like concrete tips. These are 5 things you should be saying everyday to your child.
1) “I like how you are doing _____.” This is positive reinforcement and it’s huge. I say it to my little girl about 25 times a day. They want to make you happy, but can’t often read when you’re happy. So tell them. And then do it again. And again. The more they know something pleases you, the more generally the will want to do it.
2) “First we are doing [THING THEY DON’T LIKE] and then we will do [THING THEY LIKE].” Tie the negative to the positive to help establish compliance. If they are unhappy about anything (putting on shoes, eating apples, brushing teeth, etc.) tie it to something they like.
3) “You have ____ more minutes to [DO FUN THING] before we stop.” Transitioning is important. When your child is preferring an activity, give them a warning that it is going to stop soon to minimize outbursts. For non-verbal, this could be a green light, red light, yellow light system.
4) “Look in my eyes.” Make sure your child establishes eye contact when they request something. This teaches them the critical link between communication and focus. If they want a toy, say, “Look in my eyes” so that they better understand the relationship between their needs and your ability to fulfill them.
5) “I love you.” Because it’s powerful, true, and as wonderful to hear as it is to say.
Feel free to share any other things you’d add to this list!