The Silver Lining: A Behavior Story

Happy Friday the 13th!!

While I tend not to walk under ladders, I don’t consider myself a very superstitious person. Instead, I bring in good luck by seeing the silver lining. It's rather remarkable how perspective can change a terrible situation into a success story! If you want to hear one of my success stories, keep reading!

In most preschools, there's a story time during which a teacher picks out a book and the small beings sit around and listen to the story. This works best when small beings are able to sit still and keep their thoughts in their own head for most of the story. I've worked with more than one small being who had a hard time with that skill. My perspective: Let’s teach this small being to listen to a story quietly.

There was this three-year-old that I was working with and sitting still was hard for her. Not sharing every thought she had was even harder for her. During one of our sessions, I picked out a book and then told her that it was story time. We sat down on her living room carpet and I started to read Green Eggs and Ham. Before I opened the book, I said, if she talked we would have to start the book over. Then I started to read. It was a book she knew well and often would point out the objects. We made it to the third page and she pointed out Sam. I closed the book and started again, stating the rule that she had to hold her thoughts all the way to the end. We got to the third page and she said, “I see Sam.”  Again, I closed the book. I took a deep breath to reset and stated the rule for holding her thoughts and began to read again. This time we made it to page five. I started over. Slowly we made it through more and more of the book.  

It took us 53 minutes to make it all the way through Green Eggs and Ham from start to finish without interruptions. I was thrilled, the small being did it! I knew that we would have to practice this for several more days before she could do it well in school, but to me this was a huge success.  We did a happy dance together to celebrate reading the whole book!

At the end of my session I was speaking with the mom. She was heartbroken because the small being took 53 minutes to get through the whole book and felt defeated. I pointed out that this was the first time this little girl had ever made it through an entire story without talking -- a huge step! Slowly, the mom began to understand my perspective and became proud of her daughter who had just worked so hard.

A shift of how you tell yourself the story of your small being's challenges and small steps makes all the difference.  On that day this small being took a huge step towards being a productive part of her preschool class!

Find the silver lining everywhere you can!


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And if you'd like to learn the details of many of my strategies, then perhaps consider my Behavioral Boost for Parents program. Registration is now open and the Parent Frustration Boost starts Monday.

Blue skies,

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P.S If you've ever read Green Eggs and Ham you know it's not a short book. While Dr. Seuss only used 50 different words to make this book, he used them over and over and over again.  My suggestion: If you're going to try this exercise with a small being you know - pick a shorter book. :)