Why I actually did MORE in 12 minutes on my mini-vacay than ANY work day...
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
This past weekend I decided to indulge in some self-care and spend a few hours at the beach with a dear friend of mine. She is a fellow special educator and mom of 5 with one on the autism spectrum, so she never gets tired of me chatting about ABA, education and all things food. We were kind of bummed that we only had Friday to Saturday afternoon to chillax, but we made it work. After spending our Saturday morning having lattes at a cute cafe overlooking the inlet, we walked back to our spot and began our girls day at the beach.
After lounging, sunning, laughing, chatting and sipping on some adult beverages, I say to her, "I'm going to go check out and put my things in the car. I'll be right back." As I headed to the room, I realized that I indeed had quite a few things to do to make check out, and eventually parting ways, much less stressful. I STILL needed to:
remove my kids' snack junk from the backseat (water bottles, snot-filled napkins, crusty yogurt cups with utensils and all)
move my car from the lot across the street to the main lot
check and respond to a few emails
tidy up the room (throw away empty wine bottles, take out Thai food containers, etc.)
re-pack my bag.... (which means ball it all up and throw it back in the bag...it's gotta get washed anyway)
and secure some pool towels for the remainder of our stay
I quickly went about the business of handling my "to do list" then returned to our lounge chairs.
"Hey, I'm back!" I shouted to my girl as I walked back up. I blurted out all the things I had done in the last few minutes, almost as if to apologize for taking so long. She looked at me in amazement and said, "You did ALL THAT so fast?! Dang, girl!". I really hadn't thought about it until she said it, but at that moment I realized that I had done more in the previous approximately 12 minutes than I would ever do on any "work day" with a similar list of tasks.
Then it happened. My Behavior Analyst brain kicked in. The brain that is forever timing, counting, observing and analyzing.
I asked myself, "WHY was I UBER motivated to get those things done?" I did AAAALLLLL that because I wanted to return as quickly as possible to my favorite place: the beach. This setting is full of naturally occurring reinforcers for me: sunlight, scent of the saltwater and sunscreen, sounds of the waves, and laughs with my friend.
Then I thought, how can I simplify and share this concept with parents and educators? How can I help them to understand that if we make our environments naturally reinforcing and positive, our kids will be more likely to tackle challenging tasks with less problematic behavior?
Thus...my FIRST Blog post.
Take some time to figure to out what you can do to make your home and or classroom environment naturally reinforcing for kids. This could mean manipulating sounds, scents, and access to certain activities. This could also mean re-evaluating your relationships.
In fancy applied behavior analytic terms, look at how you can manipulate the antecedent conditions and setting events to promote the behavior you want. In simplified terms, create a welcoming environment that kids want to be in. It will make your life easier when you have to ask them to do some things they may not want to do.
Enjoy your summer! We sure are going to!