700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

PAX Tools® for Families and Caregivers

Oct 26, 2020
Mother and son looking at laptop computer

With the uncertainty surrounding the school year and pandemic, many families are left wondering how to best structure and balance schoolwork, avoid conflicts about new routines, or may be looking to improve efficiency of routines within the home. One resource that offers concrete suggestions for families are PAX Tools workshops.

PAX Tools rests on decades of behavioral research, such as:

  • Building consistent routines: The consistency developed through clear routines help provide a predictable structure to the day. For example, starting the morning off the same way and having a designated space and time for schoolwork can help build predictability and a sense of safety into the day for children.
  • Clear expectations: Setting up clear expectations with children for different portions of the day can help bolster routines, build predictability, minimize potential parent-child tension, and encourage them to practice skills that are expected.
  • Use the positive to teach expectations: Although we are often drawn to pay attention to what children are not doing or are tempted to correct behaviors, noticing what children do well provides feedback and increases their motivation to achieve success in the future.

What Is PAX Tools and How Can PAX Tools Help?

PAX Tools is a collection of nine science-based strategies that can improve children’s cooperation and the ability to manage one’s own behaviors, as well as support social and emotional development.  PAX Tools recognizes that many adults contribute to the overall educational, social, and emotional growth of youth, and approaches behaviors as skill sets that must be taught. Therefore, PAX Tools is intended for all families and other adult caregivers to create supportive and safe environments that ultimately help children thrive.  In fact, similar PAX Tools strategies are often utilized in schools through the PAX Good Behavior Game®, which increases productivity and instruction time in the classroom. In home settings, PAX Tools provides specific strategies to families to support children’s behaviors in the home, as detailed in the examples and videos below for four of the PAX Tools.

  • PAX Tools: Shared Vision
    • Shared Vision is used to create and communicate common expectations between adults and children. Use this tool for activities that in the past have proven to be difficult for children meeting expectations, such as bedtime, mealtime or screen time.
  • PAX Tools: Low Emotional Response
    • Low Emotional Response focuses on avoiding verbal conflict and giving attention to acceptable behaviors with a simple visual, non-verbal cue, like a thumbs up or down. This simple tool, used for daily tasks, such as folding laundry, cleaning up toys, and using kind words, is “Ok” by giving praise or “Not Ok” and needing correction.
  • PAX Tools: Kudos
    • It is important for all of us to receive appreciation. Kudos are written letters of appreciation with an acknowledgement of the child’s effort for meeting expectations, completing tasks, and acts of kindness.
  • PAX Tools: Beat the Timer
    • Have you ever wondered why simple chores like getting ready to leave the house, cleaning up or completing homework can take longer than anticipated or are left uncompleted? Beat the Timer uses short amounts of time to encourage children’s successful completion of tasks with reduced chances of distraction, much like video games use a timer for players to beat.

In addition to the resources provided, PAX Tools is delivered in a 2.5-hour workshop by Nationwide Children’s staff and other community providers across Ohio. Families can also download the PAX Tools App to their mobile device for further information.

PAX Good Behavior Game
For more information on local workshops, click here.

Featured Expert

Samanta Boddapati, PhD

Samanta Boddapati, PhD is a psychologist and PAX coordinator at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Tiffanie Ryan, BCBA

Tiffanie is a school-based prevention specialist for the PAX program at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.