Setting things up for better behavior…or worse?

Photo by Ray Bouknight via Flickr

Photo by Ray Bouknight via Flickr

“This child just cannot sit still”

It was my first year of graduate school and my first behavior analysis professor asked the class what seemed to be a fairly easy question regarding a student’s behavior. She said,

Johnny cannot sit still in his seat. He is always fidgeting, and moving around. What would you do?

Take a moment and think about what you might have said…

As I remember, the common responses were something like this:

“Reinforce him for sitting calmly in his seat”

“Give him stickers for sitting, and do it a lot at first”

“Praise him when he sits still…tell him how good he is doing”

“When he is wiggling in his seat, tell him how to sit nicely”

There might have even been a response of “just ignore it…”

The professor had a lesson to teach and it is a lesson I would like to share today.

She showed a picture of a seat filled with thumbtacks. Continue reading

Are you begging your child to cooperate?

Photo by Tobyotter via Flickr

Photo by Tobyotter via Flickr

We all want our kids to behave well. We want them to do what they should and when they should do it. We want them to earn the spoils of behaving properly. We create some of these “spoils” ourselves in the form of sticker charts, trips to the ice cream shop or dollar bills.

But, are there situations when we try too hard to get our kids to earn what we have arranged? I think so. Continue reading

What is your child escaping?

photo by dadblunders via Flickr

photo by dadblunders via Flickr

The reason your kid does everything in his power to not clean his room is the same reason you do everything you can to not do the dishes. It’s true. So let’s think about “escape” or “avoidance” behavior and what to do about it. Continue reading

“The only way I can get her to do it is to yell and scream…and I don’t like that” – How to switch from negative to positive.

photo by martinak15 via Flickr

Recently, I posted an article on the BehaviorBandAid Facebook Page that was intended to be about discipline techniques for children with ADD/ADHD (read it here). I thought the discipline techniques they listed were true for ALL children, so I posted it. The article included a list of common mistakes:

-Not communicating with the child what he or she did wrong (what you need to tell them is what they can do instead…and be specific)

-Flying off the handle

-Failing to follow through

It also included simple reminders and lessons for what to do: Continue reading

Behavioral Momentum…ride the wave to more compliance

“Heading into the final weeks before the race, it seems Mr. Soandso has the momentum that will likely take him to the promised land”

There are so many ways we speak about momentum in our lives. You can hardly get through 15 minutes of Olympics coverage or, gag, the “Race to the Presidency” coverage without some mention of who has the “momentum.”

Momentum is an incredibly important and real factor with the behavior of your kids too, and is a bit more scientific than the sometimes mythical version you hear elsewhere. It is a strategy…a way to get from noncompliance to compliance. Simple, if you really think about it, but not used enough as far as I can see. Continue reading

Don’t worry about the kids…are you ready for school?


Alright, whether you like it or not, the time is approaching. Get your new sneakers ready, get your notebooks secured in your binders and zip up that bookbag…schools almost back in session.

As the sun rises on a new school year, there are going to be new challenges, new breakthroughs, new pains, new gains. However, there are going to be many more things that you can predict will happen with great certainty: Continue reading

Pick it up! An Easter egg hunt and dirty socks

At the time I am writing this, we are closing out a week of Easter activities and fun. Amongst the chocolate bunnies with no ears, headless Peeps, and halves of plastic eggs in every corner of the house, I sat back and thought about how many times we had “egg hunts” this week. I chuckled to myself when I thought further about it…we threw a bunch of plastic around in the yard and the kids thought it was FUN to pick them up. Literally hundreds of kids at the neighborhood hunt lining up for an opportunity to fill their baskets. We spend the other 51 weeks of the year trying to get our kids to pick up after themselves, but they have been begging to pick up Easter eggs all week.

What can we learn from this? Continue reading