Get Going with Behavioral Momentum


Do you ever have difficulty getting your child to do something? (Or starting a big project yourself?)

If you just said “yes”, then you may need some Behavioral Momentum in your life!

Behavioral Momentum is a metaphor (borrowed from classical physics) that is commonly used in place of the more technical High-Probability Request Sequence.

Think of it as riding a bicycle with gears, where the lowest gear is the easiest for pedaling to get you from a standstill to moving forward. Once your bike is in motion, then you can shift to higher gears where pedaling requires more demand on your muscles but also gives more return on distance.

Now think of a difficult task for your child. We want to use the same bicycle gears concept to increase the chances that your child will follow directions and do that difficult task. To use Behavioral Momentum, start in a “low gear” by giving a few tasks that are super quick and easy to complete.

Think of minimal effort tasks that 1) would take 1-3 seconds to complete and 2) tasks that you know that your child can do and will most likely do at least 80% of the time.

These are called High-P Requests. Common examples include:

• touch your head

• look at me

• clap your hands

• say “ahh”

• fill-in-the-blanks like “1, 2, ____”

• take out your pencil

• put one toy in the box

Once the child completes one task, then give a quick and short praise, then give the next task immediately to create momentum. As with biking, you would not move to a harder gear until you have enough motion; so in the same way, only move to harder tasks once you have compliance and momentum with High-P Requests.

Once your child has quickly completed a few quick and easy tasks, now there is Behavioral Momentum and higher chances that your child will follow that harder task that you really had in mind.


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