ACE (Acknowledge, Correct, Encourage)
ACEing is a great tool from your toolbox of behavior management strategies to give a child a correction without leaving them diminished or upset. As human beings, we do not like it when another human being gives us a correction, even if that person is our superior and we know it is going to help us with our jobs and self-improvement. When we are given a correction, instantaneously we realize that we did something wrong. As one of the most important needs for a human being is to be right and to avoid being wrong, a correction puts us in a place of upset. To avoid having a child get upset, or even worse, refuse to try, we use our language to remove the negativity that exists around a correction. The first part of ACEing is acknowledge.
Acknowledge: First and foremost, set the pace for the correction by giving the child an indication that you like a particular behavior that they are displaying. This typically begins with “I like the way…”
Correct: After we acknowledge the child, we must offer the correction so that the child may choose to try the correction. Notice how I said “offer” instead of “insist”. We must give the child the opportunity to choose to try the correction so that they have freedom in making that choice. Do you like it when another adult gives you a correction and assumes that you will make the correction immediately? Neither do children. Start the correction with “if you want to make it better…” When you include the “if” then the child feels like they have a choice in making the correction and the majority of the time will choose to make the correction to impress the teacher or parent.
Encourage: Lastly, before the child even has the opportunity to make the correction, we instantaneously give them a “high five” so that they feel successful immediately. This maintains the positive environment that we are looking to sustain. For example:
We would like a child to read a sentence and they get to a word that is troublesome. They mispronounce the word and your first instinct is to say the correct pronunciation of the word. If you were to ACE the situation it would go something like this:
“I like the way that you are sounding out the letter slowly. If you want to make it better, take a deep breath before you start a new word.” And then give them a HIGH FIVE.
I applaud your journey for continuing professional development. Now give yourself a high five for trying out a new technique.
Photo by Fivehanks