Your “map” to better behavior

the map

Knowing where you are going and when you are going to get there always makes a trip go easier. What does this have to do with your child’s behavior?

I have talked a lot on BehaviorBandAid about the value of predictability, being prepared and having a plan. There is no substitution for having a proactive plan and preventing behavior problems before they arise.

I never thought, though, that a valuable behavior lesson would come from a bi-lingual cartoon named Dora, but you take what you can get.

“I’m the map!”

If your kid watches cartoons at all you probably have come across an episode or 300 of Dora the Explorer. My kids certainly loved it. I am pretty tired of it.

At the beginning of the show Dora encounters a problem. For that journey she and her friends have a map. Not just any map, but a singing, talking map. It sings a little song and shows Dora and her weird animal friends where they need to go to solve the problem. At each turn, Dora and her friends consult “Map” for the next step (yeah, his name is “Map” – not sure where the creative team was on that one).

Kids watching the show know and are reminded, just in case, where they are and where they are going next. HMMMMMM…interesting.

“What’s our map?”

When our kids started to ask us, “what’s the map?” we automatically knew they were paying attention and needed to know what was going on and what they were to expect. Pretty interesting, really. You never really think your kids are paying that much attention, or rely so much on the predictability of things until they say something like this. They may not say it, but all children need it.

It has been a huge deal in our home. It makes transitions easier and usually prevents problems that usually come up when not-so-preferred things are going to happen. More often than not, we run “the map” by the kids as we are pulling into the driveway.

“Home, bath, bed- that’s the map”

As you are going throughout your day with your kids, keep them updated on “the map.” When I am teaching parents or teachers, I usually refer to this as  “1 back – 2 forward:” tell them what they just did (1 back) and the next two things they are going to do (2 forward). It goes something like this:

You did good getting your stuff together to leave. After we get in the car, we are going to the store to get groceries, then to the post office where I will need you to wait in line a little with me.

I usually will keep going one more step, but you get the gist.


Yes. Very. But think about when you are with someone and you’ve been in the car a while and you think you are heading home and they say, “Oh, I just need to make one more stop” or when the speaker who is already 20 minutes over says, “the other thing I want to talk about today is…” Infuriating isn’t it? Think about that if you were a 6 year old.

Give ’em the map. Use words like, “as soon as you….” and “when you…” to help along the way.

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