If you have a child enrolled in a Washington County school, you have likely heard phrases such as “be safe,” “be respectful,” and “be responsible” uttered by teachers, office staff, and even your own child! They sure sound great, right? But, what do they mean to you?
These pro-social statements are actually part of a larger school-wide approach called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). PBIS is a three-tiered system that supports social competence and academic achievement in children of all ages and abilities. At the base of this system, we can find universal supports that schools implement to teach expectations and “normalize” appropriate social behaviors. (This is where those pro-social statements come from!) Most children are responsive to the supports at this level. However, a select group will need continued and more focused supports, which can be found in the system’s secondary and tertiary levels.
Members of the school community play a critical role in effectively implementing the PBIS system, and this includes parents! Parents can help children connect their home and school life and increase their positive behaviors in both settings by practicing PBIS at home! Would you like to know how?
Here are a few ideas to get you started!
PBIS at Home (courtesy of Milwaukee Public Schools):
At home, you can use the same expectations your child has in school (i.e. “be safe”, “be respectful”, and “be responsible”.) When talking to your child about the expectations at home, use this same language and fit all your rules under these expectations. For example:
“Thank you for being RESPONSIBLE by cleaning up after dinner.”
“Thank you for being SAFE by washing your hands in the bathroom.”
Positive Praise and Acknowledgements:
A crucial element of PBIS is acknowledging individuals who reach your behavioral expectations. All positive behaviors should be acknowledged verbally to encourage your child to continue to show those behaviors. You can also introduce tangible acknowledgements to help encourage your child to reach specific behavioral goals they are struggling with.
Some examples of tangible acknowledgements could include:
- Read a story to your child or have your child read to you.
- Stay up 10 minutes past bedtime.
- Cook his or her favorite dinner.
- Play a board game or complete a puzzle together.
- Color or draw with your child.
- Watch his or her favorite movie.
- Go for a walk outside together.
- Send a positive note to your child’s teacher about the good job your child is doing at home.
Teaching Behavioral Lessons:
One cannot assume individuals (adults or youth) will be able to automatically reach our behavior expectations of them. We must take time to teach these behavior expectations and how one can reach them. At home, take time on a weekly basis (or more often if needed) to work with your child on how to meet your behavior expectations. Practicing these skills and behaviors in the setting is very effective! For example, practice how one should do homework without distractions. You can also use role playing and talk through “what if” scenarios with your child.