I hate antibiotics. I really hate taking medication of any form, which means when I finally give up I have to take the nastiest, biggest pills for the longest time. THREE A DAY FOR 10 DAYS? But I feel better after the 3rd day! I feel better and shake the extra large bottle that still contains 21 more horse pills and weigh out if I want to go through the next 7 days or just hope I have done enough to kill whatever it was that was turning my mucus a deep shade of green.
The doctor would tell you the prescription was written for 10 days for a reason. A friend physician who doesn’t have to watch his language or bedside manner says, “Take the #$% pills you wuss. You wanna strengthen your sickness to fight harder the next time? Oh, AND you’ll be sick again in 2 days. Let me know when you go to medical school.”
GULP…20 more pills to go.
Behavior strategies are the same.
I spoke about this a little when talking about Sticker Charts. Think of your “medicine” having to work over time to maintain its effectiveness. It worked immediately…cured? NO. It could have worked due to the novelty factor, or simply the fact you are finally paying attention to it. Even though it worked, if you quit, you might suffer a similar fate as you would if you were to stop taking the antibiotics on the 3rd day: it would strengthen resistance against the “medication” and the “sickness” (your child’s behavior) would also be stronger.
A lot of families go through this. They mention a strategy that used to work, but doesn’t anymore: “she keeps upping the ante…it takes more and more to get her to do what I want her to do. She is manipulating this whole thing. Nothing works anymore.” Yep. Maybe they didn’t stick with it. Maybe every time your kid sees a new sticker chart, a new behavior strategy, her experience is “oh, they are paying attention…I’m gonna get what I can out of this.”
The Z-pack isn’t powerful enough…your kid now has the behavioral version of MRSA.
Treat early and maintain the treatment until you can slowly fade the strategies after the natural reinforcers have taken over and are supporting those more appropriate behaviors. Keep working…your prescription was written for much longer than you might be willing to take it. Gulp it down and keep it up…if its working, IT IS WORKING.