When life is hard, we want change now. It is difficult to remember change is a process. It does not happen overnight. When moving through change, one of the most difficult aspects is how to measure progress. It is important to measure progress to help us stay motivated, to encourage each other, and to acknowledge positive work toward change. One way to measure progress is with three simple scales: intensity, duration and consistency of behavior. It is important to remember that we all have up weeks and down weeks, but to pay attention to the overall trend of the three scales.
INTENSITY. How intense is the behavior as it is occurring. On a scale from 0-10, how difficult, overwhelming, or all-encompassing is the behavior.
DURATION. How long does the behavior last.
Remembering that even a decrease of one minute is a sign of progress.
CONSISTENCY. How often is the behavior occurring.
Progress here can be measured if the behavior is occurring less often per day, or even simply not happening every day of the week.
While utilizing these scales of measurement, we need to remember to not get stuck on just these-but remember the overall picture of what is going on. It can help to notice the situation at hand, sometimes the reaction is appropriate even if it doesn’t feel good.
When we have unrealistic expectations and expect a magic wand result, we often set ourselves up for failure. When you are in the thick of it, noticing the little changes is one of the most difficult AND important aspects for motivation-ESPECIALLY for children! One less tantrum a week, or 5 minutes less of a tantrum does not seems like a lot, however, it is an important indicator that there is bigger change along the way.
Habits don’t form over night, so noticing, acknowledging, and praising the little changes, will help to produce the bigger changes in the long run. It takes 68 to 268 times of repetition to form a habit. The range of time it takes to form a habit show how difficult and individual it can be! This is why remembering to pay attention and praise each step will be monumental through the process.
It helps to praise after your child engages in the positive behavior. Let them know you noticed that they did not take their behavior as far as it has gone in the past or let them know you noticed they utilized a coping skill when they were calming down. Acknowledging their hard work and effort during the process will go a long way toward inhabiting and motivating lasting change.
Written by Michele Flynn, MA, BCN