The Principles of Pairing - Cultivate Behavioral Health & Education - ABA Therapy Parent Training

This week in our Parent Training series, we will be introducing the concept of pairing. The powerpoint presentation below provides audio narration for accessibility. Clink on the link below to follow along.

Parent Training: Pairing

Training Outline

In today’s discussion we will talk about what pairing is, how to pair, why it is important, and finally going through some scenarios of what pairing looks like.

Pairing is a way to establish yourself as a reinforcer for your child. Some people may also refer to this as building a rapport. During the pairing process, you want to establish yourself with things your child finds enjoyable.

How to Pair

When pairing with your child, there are a few important things to remember. First you want to keep your demands low. Asking them questions is considered a form of demand, so simple things such as “what are you playing with?”, “can you show mommy your toy?” and “show me what the car can do,” are all considered demands. Keep those minimal by complimenting those behaviors rather than asking questions.

Let your child take the lead. If they’re playing with dinosaurs, play dinosaurs with them rather than trying to get them to play with Legos or or a dollhouse instead. Be a giver by providing your child with preferred items and activities. If they’re building a really awesome Lego tower, give them some other cool Legos to build along with it.

Tell them all the great things you see them doing. This can include things like “I love how you’re playing,” “you’re sharing so nicely,” and “what a cool Lego tower.” And don’t forget, be silly and fun!

Why Is Pairing Important?

Next I want to spend some time talking about the importance of pairing. Pairing can lead to increased cooperation, compliance, and willingness to engage across activities and environments. When you’re working on pairing with your child, it’s important to work this across multiple activities such as play time, story time, and even meal times as well as different environments which can include their bedroom, playroom, kitchen and maybe even the park.

Pairing can also lead to a decrease in target behaviors because you will be working to establish appropriate behaviors that you wish for your child to continue.

What Does This Look Like?

Now that we’ve outlined some expectations on what pairing should look like, let’s go through a few different examples. In this example, Bobby is playing with Legos. Mom can comment on Bobby’s activities by saying things like “Bobby, I love how you’re playing!” , “What a cool Lego tower!” or “These look so amazing!”

Mom can also give Bobby more legos throughout the play session. As he’s building the tower, mom can hand over a couple of big blocks and then a few small ones. Mom can also help Bobby help build the tower by adding to the activity. Mom can further comment, “Bobby what a cool tower you built!” as he’s completing the activity.

For more scenarios and examples, check out the powerpoint link above.

To Summarize Pairing

Pairing is an effective way to establish yourself as a reinforcer with your child. Keeping demands low is an important step in the pairing process. Remember to keep commenting on the activity rather than asking questions. Think of ways you can add to the activity by providing additional reinforcers, and adding praise statements and comments.

For additional parent trainings on topics such as: crisis management, feeding and sleeping problems, visit our Parent Training page here.

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