One of my favorite authors, as I might have mentioned before, is Seth Godin. He has a pretty incredible following and the ability to speak about problems and work place challenges in a very effective way. In his book, Tribes, he uses the metaphor of a balloon factory in describing how some businesses operate. He describes it as a place where the workers are “timid” and “very concerned about pins, needles, and porcupines. They don’t like changes in temperature. Sharp objects are a problem as well.” His point is that a lot of places are too concerned with maintaining the status quo and get freaked out when a unicorn shows up at the door (something that will ultimately disrupt the status quo of a balloon factory as you can imagine, but could result in great lasting change). What if the status quo sucks?
So, I will ask you again: is your home a balloon factory? Are you more concerned about avoiding the next tantrum, the next fit, the next fight between siblings and keeping everyone content at the expense of true, good behavior change? This is not a question about prevention, as clearly I am a big fan of prevention strategies as a main component of successful behavior management. What I am talking about is the running around, anxiety filled day you have trying to keep everyone soothed when there is a problem. Picking up the whining child, running to the store at midnight to get more Cheerios because “Timmy will freak if he wakes up to no Cheerios,” solving each sibling disagreement as it occurs, ordering that movie you said you would not order, just to get a break.
Do you have to do it a lot? Does it seem to consume your day? Do you feel like a fireman continually dousing flames and occasionally having to rescue the family dog from a 4-alarm fire? Exhausting…and guess what? You are not making things better and are likely making things worse by appeasing your kid’s every wish, every whine, every complaint.
Let me be your unicorn (that sounds weird, but I like the metaphor). Real behavior change takes work and could potentially result in some balloons being burst. That’s OK. The good news is that it will get better, not worse, with the right tools, effort and consistency.