Behavior Plans: How to Create One and Improve Life at Home

Children have been back to school for over a month and the dreaded phone calls from school have started.  You are distraught and totally emotional.  You are overwhelmed because you know it’s hard to control your child’s emotions and actions.  Especially when they are away from you at school.  Perhaps home life isn’t any better.  Schedules have become increasingly more demanding with homework, projects, and after school activities.  Everyone is a little more stressed.  Behavior plans are a great way to improve your child’s behavior.

Every child would behave appropriately — if they could. Because misbehavior is symptomatic of an underlying disability that’s intensified by situational triggers, behavior plans should more aptly be thought of as teaching plans.  Good Behavior Plans reward children for appropriate behavior and prevent undesirable behavior.  They can be simple and target 1-2 behaviors for preschoolers or they can be used for teens that are highly motivated by rewards like access to a car or money.

Here are some common causes of behavior problems in children:

  • Difficulty regulating their emotions (staying calm when frustrated);
  • Flexible thinking (only one way to do something); and
  • Taking another person’s perspective (it’s my way or the highway).

Behavior plans work.  As a parent you need patience, consistency and the ability to follow through.  You might also need a coach to help guide the way.  A qualified coach can create the appropriate behavior plan and improve your life at home!

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to


Doing the Dance


As our children go back to school, I think about what my relationship will be like with the teacher.  My oldest child is at a new school.  No relationships are formed.  The teachers have no preconceived notions. They don’t know my son.  We don’t know which teachers are a great match for my son.  This makes me feel happy and nervous.  For the last 6 years, the teachers knew my son or me.  They knew he had some “issues.”  I advocated each and every year for what my son needed.  In the last 6 years I never had a problem communicating and advocating.  How, you ask?  No matter how emotional I got, I always treated the teacher with respect and appreciation.  I gave the teacher the benefit of the doubt.  I never tried to do their job.  Being this way pays dividends later!  To me, managing the relationship between yourself and the teacher is like dancing.  Ideally, you and the teacher are on the same “dance floor” moving towards the same goals and communicating in a fluid way.  Don’t ruin the dance by “stepping on the teacher’s toes.”  They may not want to dance with you again.

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to

Top 10 Accommodations for Children with ADHD

I asked some local parents in Arlington, VA to share IEP goals and accommodations they found to be most effective.  Below is a list of ten that I think are most reasonable for teachers to implement. Of course, by law teachers are required to provide all the accommodations set forth in an IEP, but sadly this is not always the case.  It’s important to note that each child with ADHD has different weaknesses and therefore different goals.   For every weakness a child has, an IEP should have a corresponding “SMART” goal.  Accommodations can be used in a 504 Plan or in an IEP (Individualized Education Plan).

10 Useful Classroom Accommodations/Goals

1.  For distractibility, the teacher uses a private signal to cue the student to stay on task.  Sometimes all a student needs is a subtle redirection…not “Joey, pay attention!!!”

2.  For a child who can’t keep up with notes, the teacher provides notes.  The student should still try to take notes, but will have a complete set given by the teacher in case they didn’t get it all.

3.  The teacher checks with student for understanding.  This doesn’t mean asking the child if they understand the assignment!  Of course the student will say, “yes.”  The teacher should ask the student to repeat what was asked to be certain the student knows the assignment.

4.  For a self advocacy, the student will ask for help/clarification/direction when he doesn’t understand what is being asked within 2 minutes in 4 out of 5 opportunities with fading prompts.  While I realize this is a hard goal to measure because the teacher won’t know when the student didn’t understand and didn’t ask, but it’s worth putting in the IEP.

5.  For organization, the teacher should sign the child’s agenda or assignment notebook daily.  Ideally, this book also serves as a communication tool for parents and teachers.

6.  An IEP goal for organization, would be the student will accurately write assignment details in their agenda 80% of the time in 8 out of 10 assignments.

7.  For behavior, the teacher can fill out a daily chart reflecting the student’s behavior at school that goes home. This chart ties into the parents behavior plan.  This can be done discreetly between the student and teacher so they don’t feel self conscious.  Good behavior at school translates to points on the “at home” chart and ultimately a reward.  This also provides good communication between the teacher and parents.

8. For fidgeting, the teacher will allow a fidget toy to be used by the student during all classwork.  Sometimes this might be gum.  Sometimes this might be a sensory cushion.  Each child seeks different sensory input.

9.  For homework, the teacher modifies the amount of homework.  A student can demonstrate understanding of a new math concept without doing 20 math problems.  The student can do only the even-numbered problems.

10.  For reading, many kids don’t have the attention or stamina to complete all the reading homework that is required (social studies, reading, science, etc…).  At home, try buying audio books that accompany the print version.  They hear the book while they are following it in print.  Also, many textbooks have audio capability.  Inquire if your school offers text books in audio.

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps parents figure out the services their child needs in school, helps draft accommodations and goals, and can attend 504/IEP meetings as an advocate.  Katherine is also familiar with the local resources and can provide referrals to doctors, therapists, tutors, etc….  For more information about ADHDC, go to

Screening for ADHD in Preschool: 10 Things To Look For

Young children often have problems paying attention or concentrating, but when are these problems serious enough for parents and teachers to be concerned? Most of us just think this is normal at this age, right?According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 11 school-aged children are diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, but research suggests that the warning signs often appear even before the demands of school begin. As many as 40 percent of children have significant problems with attention by age four, and ADHD is now the most common mental health disorder diagnosed in the preschool years.

Dr. Mark Mahone, director of the Department of Neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md. encourages parents to be especially observant of their young child’s behavior.  I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Mahone speak at a recent CHADD conference.  He impressed me very much and I have followed his work.

Dr. Mahone says, “Research shows that children with ADHD have abnormal brain development, meaning that ADHD has a biological basis that often makes it a lifelong condition.”  “We want to catch ADHD early because it has such a profound effect on learning and academic development. Children whose symptoms begin in early childhood are at the highest risk for academic failure and grade repetition.”

Dr. Mahone and his colleagues at Kennedy Krieger are among the first to use neuroimaging to study the brains of preschool children with symptoms of ADHD. They recently discovered that children with ADHD have a smaller caudate nucleus—a small structure in the brain that is associated with cognitive and motor control—than their typical peers. By identifying the biological markers of ADHD, they hope that intervention can begin earlier to facilitate better educational outcomes.

In preschool-aged children (3-4 years), Dr. Mahone recommends that parents look for the following signs that are associated with an ADHD diagnosis when children reach school age:

1. Dislikes or avoids activities that require paying attention for more than one or two minutes
2. Loses interest and starts doing something else after engaging in an activity for a few moments
3. Talks a lot more and makes more noise than other children of the same age
4. Climbs on things when instructed not to do so
5. Cannot hop on one foot by age 4
6. Nearly always restless – wants to constantly kick or jiggle feet or twist around in his/her seat. Insists that he/she “must” get up after being seated for more than a few minutes
7. Gets into dangerous situations because of fearlessness
8. Warms up too quickly to strangers
9. Frequently aggressive with playmates; has been removed from preschool/daycare for aggression
10. Has been injured (e.g., received stitches) because of moving too fast or running when instructed not to do so

“If parents observe these symptoms and have concerns about their child’s development, they should consult with their pediatrician or another developmental expert,” says Dr. Mahone. ”  You may be saying, the doctors will just write a prescription for medication and that doesn’t interest you.  There are many interventions besides medication to improve your child’s behavior.

As a Parent Coach, I provide ADHD support to parents and come up with a plan to deal with the challenging behaviors of pre-schoolers whether they have ADHD or not.  For more information on my services, go to ADHDC.  You may also follow me on FacebookTwitter and sign up for my monthly newsletter.

Supporting Children With Executive Functions

Executive Functions serve as a command and control function.  Think of your brain as a conductor directing an orchestra.  Throughout the day we use these executive skills.  For children, this could be organizing a school project, controlling their emotions, and making transitions.  All individuals with ADHD have executive dysfunction.  Brain imaging shows that children with ADHD are as much as 2 to 5 years behind in development of the pre-frontal cortex connected to executive functions.  Here is a list of all the executive functions:

  1. Inhibition is the ability to stop one’s own behavior at the appropriate time (a.k.a. putting on the brakes).
  2. Shift is the ability to move freely from one situation to another (a.k.a. transitions).
  3. Emotional Control is the ability to reflect on one’s own feelings, put them into context, and use thinking to guide behavior.
  4. Initiation  is the ability to begin a task or activity, generate ideas, and problem solve (a.k.a. procrastinator).
  5. Working Memory  is the ability to hold information in your mind.  This is the brain’s internal search engine.
  6. Planning/Organizing  is the ability to map out a route to reach a goal; the ability to impose order on work, play and storage spaces.
  7. Self-Monitoring  is the ability to monitor one’s own performance and to measure it against the standard of what is needed (a.k.a. personal GPS).

What can you do to help your child?  I recently came across an excellent list of strategies.  You will want to print this!

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to