Aug 24, 2011

Preventing Conflicts by Changing the Environment

Most parents have gotten use to kid-proofing their homes to prevent child endangerment. In this same school of thought, changing the physical environment can also prevent unacceptable behaviors and conflicts to arise.

Here are six ways to modify the environment so that unacceptable behavior can be minimized or prevented entirely:

Adding to the Environment
1. Enriching: introducing activities or materials that capture the interest of the child.
ex.: sandbox, swing set
2. Enlarging: broadening work and play areas to increase some behavior
ex.: parks, pools, backyard

Removing from the Environment
3. Impoverishing: reducing stimulation or the physical means to the undesired behavior
ex.: turning down volume, lowering the shades
4. Restricting: designating work and play areas to limit certain behavior
ex.: play room, car seats, art room

Changing the Environment
5. Simplifying: making the home easier for the child to function independently and effectively
ex.: foot stools, low storage areas for toys
6. Rearranging: displaying, storing and placing elements in the home to eliminate or encourage certain behaviors
ex.: knifes out of reach, use of plastic vs. glass cups

It is important to understand that the concept of modifying the environment does not sanction parents to impose physical changes upon unwilling children. Instead, parents should seek mutual acceptance of physical changes in the home, especially if they get resistance from their children. Moreover, it is likely that the best possible modifications can be made if all family members put their heads together - and certainly the commitment to supporting the changes will be higher if the process used is Method III.

excerpted from the F.E.T. Adult Resource Book, Session 4

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