Warnings: Not a Consequence for Misbehavior

I recently read this blog article and it got me thinking…

As parents (and teachers), we give warnings ALL DAY LONG!  We warn our children “If you do that, then you’re going to be in big trouble!”  “This is the last time I’m going to tell you!”  There is nothing wrong with gentle reminders (“Remember, if you hit your brother again you will have to put that toy away” or better yet “Remember to keep your hands to yourself and you can play with the spiderman toy”); however, we must be consistent with consequences.  Meaning, we must actually follow-through with what we say.  A warning cannot continue to be followed by more warnings.  A warning only works by it’s association with consequences.  If a warning is only associated with further warnings, our children will have no reason to change their behavior.  

It seems our reasoning behind so many warnings is likely avoidance of tantrums that occur when we do follow-through with consequences.  Or, on occasion, we don’t know what consequence to apply so we just keep hoping that the warning will do the trick.  The problem with this logic is that warnings followed by warnings don’t change behavior.  The behavior you are warning against continues to occur until you apply a consequence.  And while I admit that applying consequences may lead to tantrums, in the end the tantrums will decrease because the warning will have worked (after being consistently paired with actual consequences).  Don’t forget the positive consequences as well.  When your children respond appropriately to warnings such as “Remember to keep your hands to yourself and you can play with the Spiderman toy” then please remember Spiderman!

Sometimes ABA is hard work up front but well worth the results in the end!

Speech strategy: Recasting

Recasting is when a communication partner repeats what the child said, but with added or corrected language. One benefit of recasting is that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of conversation. Recasting also helps to keep the overall interaction positive, and it allows you to provide language models about the child’s interests.

Child: “He eated”
Caregiver: “He ate? Yummy!”

Child: “I want play”
Caregiver: “You want to play?”

Child: “Dog jump”
Caregiver: “The dog is jumping”

To highlight the correction, you can place some stress on the information or grammar you’re adding (e.g., “she saw the car”). The child doesn’t have to repeat after you. Hearing what you say is enough! You can use recasting during everyday activities to encourage appropriate grammar and advancement of language.

Challenging Behaviors: Tantrums vs Meltdowns

We’ve all been there: you’re headed out the door, or in the grocery store, or perhaps you’re helping your child get ready for school when challenging behavior starts. The avoidance, the refusals, the stomping of the feet. Perhaps there’s yelling, throwing, maybe even some tears. For many parents, it can be difficult to know “when to pick your battles.” Knowing the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown can help.

What is a tantrum?

Tantrums are considered a normal part of development and can help a child learn boundaries, test limits, and begin to exert some control over their environment. While they can be unpleasant, they usually have a purpose: the child is seeking a desired response. A child can stop a tantrum if they get this desired response OR if they are rewarded for using a more appropriate behavior. After age 4, tantrums should rarely occur.

Some ways to manage tantrums are to make it clear to the child that you understand what they are after. Be clear, firm, and consistent and let the child know how to get what they want. Speak in a calm, quiet voice.

What is a meltdown?

Sometimes, a tantrum can lead to a meltdown. A meltdown is a reaction to something and is usually beyond a child’s control. In layman’s terms, a meltdown is when the child goes into a state of overreaction that is “past the point of no return.” Meltdowns are emotional reactions that result in a child feeling overwhelmed and are not likely to stop even when the child gets what they want. Sometimes, your child might not even know what they want. Meltdowns tend to end in one of 2 ways:

1. Fatigue: the child wears themselves out.

2. A change in the environmental input that is contributing to the child feeling overwhelmed.

Ways to Help

To help a child during a meltdown, assist them in finding a quiet, safe place to calm down. Try to reduce the input coming at the child by dimming the lights, reducing noise, and providing slow rocking or a long, deep hug. Avoid talking if possible as it can contribute to the child’s feeling of being overwhelmed.

If your child has Autism Spectrum Disorder or challenges with Sensory Processing, tantrums and meltdowns can occur frequently. For these children, keeping emotions under control and managing frustrations can be difficult. Sensory input that may not bother adults or other children can be easily overwhelming and hard to process.

If you have a child with ASD or sensory
challenges, Atlanta Autism Center is here to help. Please call 1-833-6AUTISM
(1-833-628-8476) to make an appointment. 

W-Sitting. What is it? Why is it important?

W-Sitting. What is it, and why is it important?

W-sitting is a posture a child assumes when he/she plants their bottom between their feet on the floor and their feet and bottom make a ” W”. Many children assume this posture while playing on the floor and when you observe this you should discourage it. 

 This posture can influence the hip, knees, and feet. When a child “W” sits he/she does not utilize their trunk muscles. This can compromise balance because they are using a wide base of support. Without a solid base of support in the trunk, dexterity and coordination are affected. Also, trunk rotation is bypassed with this posture. Midline (the center of the body) orientation is also avoided. Crossing midline is an important element that facilitates bilateral (both sides) use of the hands to play. This is a foundation to upper extremity coordination, hand dominance, and even handwriting.

W-sitting can affect a child’s balance, joints, and coordination.

What can you do?

You can develop a cue such as “crisscross applesauce,” or place their legs in that position. If you see this pattern and the child uses it almost exclusively and does not correct it , an evaluation by an occupational or physical therapist is recommended.

As always, if you would like an evaluation by any of our therapy departments, you can reach out to Atlanta Autism Center at 833-6AUTISM.

Speech Strategy: Self-Talk

Self-talk is a strategy to help children develop language. To do so, narrate what you’re doing or seeing. That’s it! By talking about what you’re doing and seeing, your child has more opportunities to hear words that match real-life experiences. It’s best to use short sentences so as not to overwhelm your child with information. This can feel awkward at first, but it doesn’t have to happen all day long. You can use self-talk during daily routines, like bath time or dinner.


“I’m opening your apples. They’re crunchy and red. Let’s put them on a plate.”

“I can turn on the water. It feels warm. Your bath is getting full”

“I see a cat! I like that small cat”


Advocate + Educate + Love + Accept


Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


Welcome to Atlanta Autism Center’s blog, thank you for joining us!

Atlanta Autism Center is a unique place. We provide assessment, diagnosis, treatment and support for children and families with suspected or established diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

At AAC, we provide multiple therapies in a single location. Your child can receive Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Feeding and Nutritional Therapy, and Behavioral Therapy (ABA) all in one place. We partner with providers and professionals within the community to give our families access to critical resources.

This blog is a place where our experts will provide education, support, and resources to our readers. We are here for you. We are here to help.

Autism is our expertise and our passion.