Establish clear visual and physical boundaries in the home.
Young children may need repeated practice and teaching to learn the meaning and importance of the boundaries in the home setting.
- Initially limit access to areas such as the formal living room or office. (close doors, gates, tape across floor)
- Arrange furniture to establish clear physical boundaries between areas within a room if possible (e.g. loveseat, bench, chest across an open entry into another room)
- Create an area in the room that your grandson is most often destructive that is “his area”. Place a bin or basket of things that he likes to “play” or interact with in the area to make it less likely for him to go to pushing over furniture or knocking things off tables. If space is available, a small child sized table, carpet or bean bag can let him know where “his” area is in the room. Initially, he will need adult guidance and reinforcement for engaging in activities in the designated area. The goal is to make the new activities you offer more exciting to him than knocking over or pushing things in the room!
Increase Structure and Predictability
- Teach the child to associate each area with appropriate activities and use visual supports (see documents and resource section) to help him understand each area.
Kitchen: eating, drinking, table work/play
Family Room: movies, IPad, books, puzzles
Play Room: balls, trains, blocks, gross motor play such as trampoline, sit and spin.
- Minimize visual and auditory distractions by limiting the amount of toys or objects that are around the house. Less is more! Keep items stored in baskets or drawers and only take out 2 or 3 preferred activities at a time.
- Schedule your grandson’s time (start with a time of day that he is most likely to engage in knocking things over) by using a visual schedule of his morning and/or afternoon activities. For example: breakfast, brush teeth, get dressed, sensory play, outside, puzzle play, movie, and snack.
Increase Engagement and Reinforce Appropriate Behavior
- Anytime a child is not engaged in some type of preferred or purposeful activity, the likelihood of negative behavior increases. Make a list of things your grandson likes to do…even if it consists of unusual choices such as tearing paper or lining up items on the floor. Have these activities available to him and even build them into his schedule.
- Since he likes to knock things over, a variety of more appropriate “cause and effect” activities may be of interest to him such as knocking over blocks or pillows that have been stacked or pushing a toy lawnmower.
- When your grandson is behaving appropriately, be sure to use positive verbal reinforcement (“I like how you are sitting at table!”, “Oh great you put the ball into the basket!”) and if needed, a tangible reinforcer such as a sticker on a chart or a small edible treat. It is important to “catch him being good” often!