A classroom teacher had a student who got up from her seat and walked across the room frequently during instructional times. While I’m sure you can relate, this can be very disruptive! Having to redirect a child back to their seat can mean losing focus on what you’re talking about; not to mention it distracts other students! After some data collection, I found out the little girl was getting up in order to get preferred items (there was some task avoidance as well). She would go get games, crayons, tape (which she liked to play with), and some other non-essential things.
The most important thing I wanted to do was to teach this little gal to ask for what she wants! It is so important for her to learn to advocate for herself and what she wants/needs, while making sure to follow classroom rules. It is so important to teach a child that you can not just get anything you want without asking the teacher (talk about a safety concern!).
The entire plan I came up with was a simple tupperware box that the little girl could take with her everywhere at school. She also had complete access to it at all times. Inside the box, three preferred items could be kept inside. I made sure to tape an index card on the bottom with the numbers, “1,” “2,” and “3.” This was done so the box didn’t accumulate 20 something items and was difficult to remove over time. On the lid of the box I taped the phrase, “I want ___.” Any time the little girl says, “I want ___,” or is prompted to say that, she was immediately rewarded with that item AND praise. This was a first step in teaching her that when you ask for something appropriately you get it! Now, I completely know that you don’t get everything you ask for, but this was just the first step.
The items are provided in the box to minimize the likelihood of her getting up from her seat to get a game or preferred item. This whole idea is what we jargon-filled behavior people call, “satiation.” The idea behind this is if the child has immediate access to these preferred items, they will become satiated and are less likely to get up from their desk to get them. One important thing to note is she was able to play with the items whenever she pleased to ensure satiation took effect.
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