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. 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

5 things your kid’s swimming teacher can teach you about parenting


Alright, so you’re not ready to listen to parenting advice from a hunky college kid teaching your kid how to swim?

Not learning anything from the “too skinny to be healthy, but I’m secretly jealous” local high school girl teaching the backstroke?

Maybe you should pay a little more attention, because deep down inside those tanned bodies, they are teaching you valuable lessons about parenting:

1. Anytime your mouth is below water, blow bubbles (Simple rules win!)

Look, the consequences of breathing under water are a bit more daunting than the consequences of not picking up after playtime, so its important for the kids to follow this direction. But the rule is very simple…blow out of your mouth when under water. It is that simple, because it is that important.

At home, make very simple rules when its really important. Follow through with them. At the very beginning, do not let them error. Be there to make sure they do it the right way. Encourage them and remind them…

2. See how big a splash you can make with your feet (Turn things into a game)

Your swim coach would never try to get your kid to kick their legs and feet by talking to them about propulsion and flotation. They get them to kick their feet by simply making it fun to kick their feet AND by giving them a way to get immediate feedback for doing it correctly (if they do it correctly, the larger the splash will be).

I think too often parents get into the mode of over-explaining, over-rationalizing and lecturing about the “whys” instead of the “hows.” Really, it is more important, at their age, how they engage in the behavior and experience the benefits of it rather than understanding why they should do it, why it makes sense, etc.

3. Swim to the edge (Early success matters)

Your kid’s swimming coach would never start your kids at the middle and tell them to swim to the edge…hope you make it! Hunky McSwimmerton starts your kid close to the edge and with his hand holding your little swimmer up, he gets the legs kicking and gently pushes him to the edge of the pool. Then the cheering begins! You’re a swimmer! Success not only breeds success, but it also builds a history with making it to the edge. Slowly, Tini Bikini backs up with your kid, but only to a distance she knows your kid will make. 

Too many times we start our kids “in the middle” and expect them to “swim” to the edge. We start with “clean your room” or “do your laundry” without starting them at a point of success and fading out to what we really want. This goes for quality too. Your “clean” room might not be your kid’s “clean” room. Start with success and fade out…maintaining that success.

4. Roll over if you get in trouble (Teach self-help and resiliency)

One of the things I recently saw a few kids do in the pool which was pretty neat was when they got in trouble (swam too far out or got too far from the parent), they rolled over on their backs to catch a few breaths and either called out for the parent or reset themselves to make it to the edge. Turns out, this is something they were taught in swimming class.

There are times when kids get upset for good reasons and also for reasons that are pretty ridiculous. Its gonna happen. They need to know how to reset themselves and calmly be able to access help or calm themselves enough to assess the situation and get out. When another kid takes a toy, when milk is spilled, when the show turns off all of a sudden when the power goes out. Resiliency is huge for kids. Teach them to be able to handle when things don’t go their way. This is huge (as is rolling over in the water to catch a breath).

5. I’ve gotcha (Be there to ensure success, reward effort and protect, just in case)

Teaching your kid that you will be there to support them, to make sure they learn easy and hard lessons (what it feels like when water goes in your nose or when you get a little too ambitious and have to roll on your back to breathe), and to catch them if they really get in a hard spot is something we can all strive to do on a daily basis.

When it is all said and done…we are still parents. We will protect above and beyond all things.

Alright guys, spread some Zinc on your nose, spin a whistle around your fingers and slide on a new pair of shades…you’re ready! 

Trying to control everything = controlling nothing


I recently read an article called Letting Go of Control. I thought it was going to be about parents who try to control everything, but it turns out it was a more about marriage and day-to-day life, although the example given was something I think all parents can understand and respond with a hearty, “we’ve been there!” 

It did make me think there still is quite a bit more to say about parenting and parents who try to control too much. The reality was stated nicely by the author:

You see, control demands that others behave in set, predictable ways. Whether it’s the dog, your friend helping out with the kids, the restaurant, or even the weather! None of these are going to behave completely predictably. Certainly, much of the time you can predict situations and behavior, but many times you can’t. And it’s those times you can’t when you need another approach. 

When you’re in control mode, your first impulse when something goes out of control is to say, “What happened here? Who’s fault is it? Get back on track!” Which will work if you have power of life and death over the situation, but that’s rarely the case. 

Do what you can…then relax

Obviously, I spend a lot of time talking about prevention, being proactive and planning for things as much as possible. It was one of my first posts and prevention will continue to be a major theme of what I have to say. But, it would be incredibly naive to think that all things can be predicted or that all things can be accounted for. Spice of life…right? Ugh.

Things change, unexpected things happen. Batteries run out, rain falls on the birthday party, the waiter is unbelievably slow, traffic sucks, your car DVD player breaks the night before your 12 hour road trip (happened to us three weeks ago)…

@#$% happens. It is how you react that will make the difference.

Do you tense up?

When you lose control, do you REALLY lose it?

Do you break down?

Sometimes you can do more damage trying to make up for the things that went wrong than would have happened if you would have done nothing at all.

One of the benefits of being proactive and planning for things is that when things do go haywire, you are less likely to freak out because you have over-prepared. You brought the extra pack of crayons, you brought one of those weird tubes of yogurt, you have extra batteries. You can go with the flow when things happen.

But then there are times when things aren’t even that predictable. 

These are important moments, as you will teach your kids how to respond when things do not go their way!

This reminds me of several families with whom I have worked over the years that have benefitted from simply doing LESS. In the attempts to manage everything, in the attempts to cover all bases…to make sure everything was perfect and right, they simply did too much. Too much hovering. Too much talking. Too much interaction. Too much fear about what would happen if something did not go as planned or as intended.

You know these people…it makes you nervous simply watching them. Imagine how the kids are when watching you when you are this way.

Plan for what you can and let things fall into place. If all goes awry, follow the recommendations of the article:

1. Acknowledge that the situation is out of control. 

2. Focus on finding a solution.

3. Enjoy what is.

You might find yourself doing less damage, having more fun, and (oh, by the way) making better parenting decisions after all.

Three strikes? Who’s out?

Recently, on the BehaviorBandAid facebook page, I posted an article by renowned parenting expert, John Rosemond.  In this article, a mother asked a question about loud, screaming kids.  Apparently, when the kids play together, they are super loud, banging stuff…well, Im sure you get it. Kids being kids, but a little much for inside the house.

He proposed the “Three strike rule,” which is fairly simple: if the kids get too loud, they get 1 strike.  Loud again, two strikes, and after the third strike the two are separated from each other for an hour (“each in their respective rooms”).  After the hour, they can begin play again.  Three strikes two times in a day?  He says they spend the rest of the day in their rooms and go to bed early.

Here is why I am writing about this article:

  1. I don’t always agree with Rosemond, but there are some things in here I like
  2. If misused, you can be in some trouble
  3. Explain why this works and how this works so you are less likely to make those mistakes. Continue reading