Do not push

Stop Pushing!


Recently in our group we attempted to help our kids understand the concept of “pushing buttons,” or doing something purposely to make others mad. We have written on this twice before. You read those entries here and here. This was happening a lot in our group, and taking away from our time to address other social concepts. We realized that they were pushing buttons for the obvious reason of getting a reaction but also because they often didn’t know what to do instead. How else could they interact or make their friend think positively about them? In came some role-playing and visual supports to the rescue.

First we established what pushed each others buttons. The funny thing was it was easy for the kids themselves to tell us what bothered others! They were usually spot on. Great perspective taking activity on its own. We talked about how we could tell it bothered them (i.e. body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc.) We wrote these behaviors out and added a picture using Lessonpix, to help our non reading friends as well as to help with understanding. For example, B can’t stand when other kids tell him what to do. We found a picture of a teacher on Lessonpix and placed it next to B’s name under a column with a “mad” face. We then brainstormed what we could do instead of telling him what to do? How about asking him vs. telling him? “Do you wanna be a policeman?” Vs. ” You’re the policeman, I’m the bad guy!”   We role played this several times, used our visual and catch phrase from Social Adventures App “Teachers tell, friends ask” (found here) and found an image from Lessonpix of a child asking. We placed this image next to the “telling” picture and under the column with a ” happy” face.


This seems simple enough, yet it was critical to make these concepts concrete and visual. We did this for the entire group for different behaviors that “pushed” buttons such as using too loud of a voice, to shouting out who is first in line. We generated alternatives to make friends happy instead of mad. The visual chart is now in our group room for reference and a copy was sent home with each kiddo so they could discuss with their families and review before group. Families report that they were able to carry over this concept at home too with button pushing of siblings.

We have had much less button pushing and more time for fun!

Photo by: Les Chatfield

Submitted by: Meghan G. Graham M.S. CCC-SLP


Pushing Buttons Part II

Last week I wrote about an activity to help kids understand that it is not affable to purposely annoy or bother our friends.  We may think it’s fun but they do not.  This week Meghan and I tried to concretize the concept by using actual buttons.We asked the kids in the 2nd grade group to recall their friend’s buttons from the previous week.  The first step in not annoying others is to learn and remember what annoys them.  Surprisingly, the kids quickly stated each other’s buttons with better recall than I could claim.Secondly, we explained that we needed to practice playing and working together while being respectful of each other by NOT pushing buttons.  We prepared a mancala game board with the first initial of each child place in one of the mancala board pits.  We placed a handful of buttons in the larger pit at the end of the board.  The kids were told that a button would be placed in their pit if one of the adults observed them pushing a friend’s button.

It was time to play a game.  We used a favorite app, Scribblenauts, which required turn taking, impulse control, listening, ideating, negotiating, collaborating, flexibility, and teamwork.  We truly expected the challenge to maintain considerate behavior would be too great as the kids became involved in this exciting and challenging activity.

I am pleased to say that Meghan and I were in awe as we witnessed the kids supporting each other and working together, controlling their impulses and bodies, and accepting the ideas of others WITHOUT pushing each other’s buttons.  We ended up with only a few buttons in the pits.  There were no other consequences and we pointed out how respectfully they behaved.

We recognize that this activity involved only one hour out of the many hours in a day and we can’t expect this friendly behavior to persist at all times.  However, we also believe the practice, success, and warm feelings the kids experienced is a big step in the right direction.

Jill Perry MHA M.S. OTR/L

If you found the ideas in this blog helpful, you will definitely appreciate the activity ideas in the Social Adventures app available on the Social Adventures - all4mychild