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The Redo:
A Behavioral Correction Method For Us All

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By Ann Houck, LCSW

The Redo: a simple, elegant process that corrects our bad behavior and builds trusting relationships.       

When a child has responded to a situation in a hurtful, self-defeating, and/or disregulated manner, a “redo” is in order.  What, exactly, is a redo?  In working with children, it is a tool to correct inappropriate behavior, and teach a more effective way of responding. It is an opportunity to turn a non productive response into a productive one. The redo method builds trust between you and the child, and empowers children to be responsible for their actions.  


Redos demonstrate how to handle a situation more productively, and powerfully, and reinforces and trains the mind/body to spontaneously execute an effective action in the future.

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For instance, when a child shouts at another child, responding in a negative manner to a playmate, we want them to stop this behavior. Instead of immediately resorting to some form of negative punishment, we encourage them to try it again with respect. This is a form of a redo.  One does not want to ignore the inappropriate behavior, thus encouraging the ineffective behavior to occur again.  Taking advantage of the situation to recreate the same message in a respectful, appropriate manner, allows the child to learn and build a memory of how to respond effectively.  

 

And, what if the adults caring for these children were to practice the same correcting principles?  


“Do I practice redoing my wrong responses, turning them into right responses?”       

 

After all, we do know that children learn by example—that they emulate their adult caregivers. Is it not our responsibility to set that example?  We are all nodding in agreement, right?  Now, ask yourselves, “Do I really set a good example?”  “Am I mindful of my interactions with the children and with others, so that they witness and learn the right things?” I don’t know about you, but I frequently come up short in this domain.  Maybe we need some help here.  Maybe we need to spend some time practicing in our personal lives those behaviors and skills we want our children to obtain.

 

How do we do that?  Well, just like everything else, practicing an action builds up memory of that action, which results in our spontaneously reacting in a more positive manner than before.  So, we must find what works for us in the practice arena.  Do I set aside 5-10 minutes a day to practice saying, “I’m sorry, I would like to try that again.”  Do I take time to review what I did right and wrong in the last 24 hours regarding my communication with others?  Do I then practice redoing the wrong responses, turning them into right responses?  Maybe I seek out someone—a spouse or a friend—to try things out on.  But, spend some time practicing responsible, effective responses.

 

Then, when there is a slip in the real world, try asking for a redo.  What would happen if you simply acknowledged that you were inappropriate or hurtful, and that you would like to reframe your responses?  What would stop you from doing that?  “But, it doesn’t feel right.”  Well, probably not, because we have the “wrong” way of doing things stuck in our muscle memory.  Learning how to respond in difficult situations requires a new skill set.  Putting that skill set into play is reinforced by the redo.  

 

So, imagine a situation in which you reacted poorly.  You thought after the words were out of your mouth, “Oops, not a good response.”  You now have a choice.  Do you reinforce the bad response by getting defensive, maybe escalating the situation by becoming angry, maybe walking away without a resolution?  (This isn’t turning out well.)  The moment you realize that something is not right, STOP, pause, reframe.  Ask for a redo.  Take a deep breath.  Picture yourself responding in a skillful, productive way.  Now, do it again.  Better?  I am sure it is.  

 

The Redo:  a simple, elegant process that corrects our bad behavior and builds trusting relationships.  Try it—I bet you will be glad you did.

Ann Houck

Ann Houck

Licensed clinical social worker; volunteer social work supervisor for Oak Life interns; experience working with children of trauma in child protective services and school social work settings.

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