Dr. James MacDonald 332 Mimring Columbus, Ohio 43202 Phone/Fax 614 447-0768 macdonaldj86@gmail.com

Communicating Partners

Dr. James D. MacDonald's Website

Helping Parents Help Children. Programs for Parents, Therapists & Educators

Civil and Emotional Life

What does your child need to do to become a self-respecting and acceptable social partner?


  1. Follows directions that are developmentally appropriate
  2. Cooperates willingly with out being coerced
  3. Cooperates in activities that fit his development
  4. Complies willingly but not in a rote or passive manner
  5. Responds to others' wishes and behaviors as well as his own
  6. Shows more voluntary cooperation than mindless compliance.
  7. Maintains his own interests and motivations as he cooperates.
  8. Maintains his own integrity while cooperating.


  1. Approaches people with out fear.
  2. Responds to people without fear or resistance
  3. Interacts without needing to have full control.
  4. Shows comfort and relaxation with people.
  5. Avoids people who show little acceptance.


  1. Treats others with respect
  2. Treats self with respect
  3. Treats others with kindness
  4. Learns from consequences to his behavior
  5. Responds sensitively to others' concerns.


  1. Controls his impulses and emotions reasonably.
  2. Expresses emotions effectively and without excess.
  3. Checks himself when beginning to act out or lose control.
  4. Tolerates frustration without losing control.
  5. Calms himself when anxious or disrupted.
  6. Tolerates transitions without great difficulty.
  7. Recovers easily when upset.


  1. Asserts self without aggressions
  2. Shows humor
  3. Shows negative emotion appropriately.
  4. Shows positive emotion appropriately
  5. Accepts affection
  6. Shows affection in socially acceptable ways.
  7. Recovers easily when upset
  8. Tolerates transitions easily


  1. Develops attachments with responsive people
  2. Avoids attachments with people who are not responsive or accepting.
  3. Attachments are flexible and not obsessive.
  4. Seeks comfort in times of distress or anxiety.
  5. Shows similar emotional patterns as his life partners


  1. Shows concern for others
  2. Is affected by others' emotions
  3. Listens to others
  4. Actively tries to please others
  5. Actively helps or supports others
  6. Take others' perspective/point of view


  1. Disregards others feelings or ideas
  2. Talks in rude or insensitive ways
  3. Interrupts others
  4. Talks loudly or otherwise inappropriately
  5. Dominates conversations
  6. Abuses others verbally
  7. Abuses others physically
  8. Shows little emotion.
  9. Shows excessive emotion.
  10. Fails to learn from consequences
  11. Ignores others or acts as if they do not exist
  12. Fears contact with people
  13. Makes attachments to people who are abusive or not accepting.
  14. Shows little sustained attachment to people.


The following are ways to help your child improve his civil and appropriate behavior

  1. The goal is for your child to communicate in civil and socially acceptable ways.
  2. Start with the strategies below that come most easily for you.
  3. Try one or two as you play with your child, then watch how he responds.
  4. Keep doing the ones that work with your child.
  5. If certain ones seem uncomfortable, do not push yourself. There are many different ways to be effective.
  6. Try new strategies when little is happening with your child.
  7. Determine success by what results in less negative and more positive behaviors.
  8. The goal is for your child to treat others with respect and appreciation.
  9. Be patient and feel energized by each new positive behavior. However small it seems, it is important for your child.


  1. Talk to behaviors you want more of.
  2. Do not talk to behaviors you want less of.
  3. Regularly ask yourself: Do I want this behavior to continue?
  4. Look away when your child is doing something you want to decrease.
  5. Do not talk to your child when taking him to time-out.
  6. Remind yourself that your attention is like a fertilizer to your child.
  7. Teach your child's partners to attend to the positive and ignore the negative.


  1. The more you act like your child the more he will cooperate.
  2. The more you talk in ways your child can try, the more he will respond.
  3. Evaluate your child's environments for over stimulation.
  4. Understand and reduce environments that disrupt your child.
  5. Understand and increase environments where your child behaves well.
  6. Define "good behavior" as positive interactions, not only as "not doing anything wrong".
  7. Change your child's environments so he interacts more positively.
  8. Be sure to give your child tasks he can succeed with.
  9. Try doing only one thing at a time when playing with your child.


  1. Avoid doing much more than your child in an interaction.
  2. Wait for your child to take a turn.
  3. Wait silently and with clear expectation for him to respond.
  4. Gently insist on taking your turn
  5. Be sure neither of you dominates the interaction
  6. Explain the '50/50' rule: when interacting, try hard to do no more than half of the talking.
  7. Think of communicating as more a 'give and take' than just giving information or directions.
  8. Be sure your 'turn' responds to what the child just said or did.
  9. When the child dominates the interaction, silently terminate it briefly; do not support excessive behavior that will limit him in society.


  1. Allow child to control your interactions at least half the time.
  2. Follow child's ideas and actions at least half the time.
  3. Be more responsive than directive; that is respond supportively more than controlling in a directive way.
  4. Limit your questions to necessary ones and less than 20%of your talk.
  5. Make sure that he allows you to have some control.
  6. Comment frequently on what your child does or says, then wait for a response.
  7. Make your interactions more a playful flow than a task.
  8. Avoid pressing your child for specific answers more than 20% of the time.
  9. Teach the child by example that he can have successes in conversation.


  1. Genuinely enter into your child's activities of interest.
  2. Play with child when he is acting positive.
  3. Comfort child when he is genuinely fearful.
  4. Make sure to discipline quietly and quickly.
  5. Learn to read your child's emotions.
  6. Show him that you genuinely enjoy him.
  7. Learn to "read" when he is available.
  8. Build on his "available" times by joining him in them.
  9. Respond to the positive things your child does.
  10. Ignore the undesired things your child does.
  11. Avoid judging your child's behavior.
  12. Invite child into activities you enjoy.
  13. Understand your child's fears and limitation.
  14. Reduce stress in your interactions.
  15. Be more concerned with the interaction continuing than "right" answers.
  16. Tolerate your child's play even when you do not understand it.
  17. Be animated and more interesting than your child's distractions.
  18. Comfort child when he is distressed.
  19. Show child clear boundaries to abusive behavior.

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Dr. James MacDonald 332 Mimring Columbus, Ohio 43202 Phone/Fax (614)447-0768 macdonaldj86@gmail.com