Skip to Content

3 Simple Steps for Successfully Redirecting Your Child

Redirection is a common strategy used by parents. Generally, you’ll distract your child with something safe and appropriate in order to redirect them away from something inappropriate. 

The Basic Redirect” is a common strategy used in ABA therapy that involves taking a child from a problem behavior and then engaging them in a more appropriate behavior than what they were doing but it is still similar.

3 Simple Steps to Successfully Redirect Your Child

This post will give you some tips to perfect your redirection at home. 

This post is part of a 13 part series. Each post in the series will explain an evidence-based strategy used by professionals for managing behavior with children on the autism spectrum. Each part of this series will contain a table of contents so you can easily navigate to the different strategies.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction 
  2. Build a Relationship
  3. Individualize Motivation
  4. Observe, Listen, then Join
  5. Optimize Language
  6. The Premack Principal
  7. Basic Redirect
  8. Breaks
  9. Picture Rehearsal
  10. Add Structure at Home
  11. Teach Independence with Prompting
  12. Transactional Supports
  13. Add Structure to the Learning Environment 

The Basic Redirect

When you’re really good at this strategy you will learn to redirect your child before the inappropriate behavior even occurs, by recognizing your child’s triggers and intervening early.

Ultimately, it’s easier to prevent a behavior than it is to react and stop one that’s happening. Over time, this tends to deter the behavior because children begin to naturally go towards the other activity.

Putting It Into Perspective

What would you rather:

Imagine you just made yourself a coffee and sat down on the couch to relax. Just after you sat down – your child asks you for a snack.


You just made yourself a coffee but before you left the kitchen to drink it, your child asked you for a snack.

It’s less frustrating when you haven’t sat down yet, to do your preferred activity (drinking coffee). It’s the same with kids – if your kiddo is jumping on the couch and you yell “Stop jumping!” – That feels the same to them as you feel getting up for that snack after you were comfortable.

That’s why redirection is more successful when you’re able to intervene and direct your child’s attention elsewhere beforehand. 

Staying One Step Ahead of Your Child

When redirection is done perfectly, you’ll be one step ahead of your child.

You will distract your child from the behavior they’re about to engage in, and direct them to a more appropriate behavior that serves the same function.

When the redirect is successful, follow up with positive reinforcement to your child for making good choices.

You need to know your child’s behavioral triggers and be watching for the earliest signs indicating what they’re about to do.

So, before my kids start jumping on the couch, they usually start just rolling around or rocking into the back of the couch and fidgeting. At my house, this is when I know it’s time for me to redirect.

How to Redirect Successfully

"The Basic Redirect" is a common strategy used in ABA therapy that involves taking a child from a problem behavior and then engaging them in a more appropriate behavior than what they were doing. // #Parenting #Toddlers #ToddlerDevelopment #BehaviorStrategies #ABA #Autism #ADHDKids

There are three simple steps to remember for successful redirection. When you see your child about to engage in inappropriate behavior you need to intervene in a positive way.

For example, take something to them, or lead them to something else while using positive language, ie say “walking feet please” instead of “don’t run!”

1.  Redirect to something similar, but more appropriate. 

So when my children are starting to rock around on the couch I’ll say “let’s go jump on the trampoline!” not “let’s go play with blocks” – their behavior tells me they need to get moving right now, not sit quietly with blocks.

2. Reinforce the redirection 

Make sure when your child successfully redirects their behavior you give them lots of praise for the more appropriate behavior. This will increase the likelihood of your child engaging in the preferred behavior in the future.

3. Join the activity

If you’re trying to redirect your child to a new activity, join in with them at first to make it fun.

For example, if your kids are playing with blocks on the floor and they are starting to argue, instead of taking the blocks away from them – sit down with them and make up a new game and get everyone laughing and having fun.

Use Redirection Early

This time, I’m talking about using redirection when your child’s behavior is mild and they aren’t dysregulated or melting down. 

Redirection only works to a certain point. It needs to be used early on before behaviors are too out of control and your child is close to melting down.

With practice and patience, you will get better at redirecting early and towards activities that will distract your child from inappropriate behavior.

Continue to: Strategy 7 – Breaks

Spread the love

How to Eliminate Attention Seeking Behavior With Positive Parenting - Raising An Extraordinary Person

Saturday 16th of November 2019

[…] “The Basic Redirect” is a strategy often used in ABA therapy. You can read more about how to perform a basic redirect here. […]

Guide to Teaching Social-Emotional Skills With Social Scripts & Imitation

Saturday 9th of November 2019

[…] Basic Redirect  […]

What are "Transactional Supports" & Why is it Critical for Social-Emotional Development? ·

Tuesday 8th of October 2019

[…] Basic Redirect […]

Teach Autistic Kids to Do Tasks Independently With a Simple Prompt Hierarchy

Wednesday 11th of September 2019

[…] Basic Redirect […]