Hold my hand


Make sure you hold your kid’s hands when you are doing fun things and going to fun places instead of only grabbing their hands when you are doing not-so-fun things and taking them to places they dont want to be (e.g., time out, dentist, away from their play partners, etc.).

I have seen teachers and parents reach out their hands and the kids start walking (or running away from them). Yes, sometimes this is the kid trying to engage in an ill-timed game of chase, but it showed me the kids knew what was about to happen…only by seeing that outstretched hand.

In the case of a recent trip to a preschool playground, the teacher reached her hand out and it meant, “you have to come off the playground and go potty.” Those kids weren’t going down that easy. But it is not always when the kids had to leave the playground…it was at other times when leaving might have been something they wanted to do, they just did not know, so I think they were banking on their experiences of, more often than not, being taken somewhere they did not want to go (otherwise, they would have simply walked themselves).

If you need to take your child by the hand when they are unlikely to come to you…go to them. Don’t hold your hand out from 20 feet away when you are telling your kids its time to leave the pool. Its not likely to happen and you might run the risk of your outstretched hand becoming a warning sign saying, “RUN!”

Have fun when holding hands…they won’t treat you as if you have cooties on your hand at other times when it is more important for them to be with you.

Watch this…you dont want to teach them that when you reach for their hand it means something bad is about to happen.

Words matter – Watch your mouth!


Slight changes in how you say things can make a huge difference in the way your kid responds to you. It really might seem simple and ridiculous, but trust me. It’s not magical (and certainly not a “transformation”), but every little bit helps.

Here are a few to compare.

  • “Get to” instead of “have to.” For example, “we get to go to the store after lunch” instead of “we have to go to the store after lunch.” To emphasize this, say these two things out loud: “do we have to?” vs. “do we get to?”
  • “As soon as you_____, you can______” instead of “you won’t be able to_____ unless you_____.”
  • “If you dont” (negative consequence) replaced with “when you do” (positive consequence). This one is hard sometimes…practice this one.
  • “Where do those go?” instead of “put your _____ where they need to go”
  • “I love it when you _______” instead of “I really hate it when you ______.” There are several versions of this one that every parent has used at one point in time. Thats ok. No worries…just be aware. Keep the sarcasm (hard for me…I must admit).

Check out the Facebook page to add to the conversation and put in your suggestions.


Thought of the day – 5/10/12


I would rather laugh about being over prepared than cry about being underprepared.

I would rather the table next to me see me playing a game with my kids while waiting on dinner than see me carrying them out wailing and screaming.

I would rather my kid repeat something nice I just taught him to say to a friend and praise it than wait for him to say something that might not be as nice and punish him.

I would rather go ahead and put half the shoes away to make it more likely she will finish her task when I ask her than ask her to do something I know she is not likely to do.

I would rather set up opportunities where all I have to do is reinforce appropriate behavior than wait to punish the inappropriate behaviors to “teach a lesson.”

I would rather say “as soon as you…” than “if you ever do that again…”

What would you rather do?

Thought of the day – 5/8/12


Hang in there folks, with Teacher Appreciation day today and end of school year parties to come, this one is winding down. Summertime means pools, parties and vacations. Get ready for 3 months of schedule disruption, food on the go, and worn out kids. All of it is good, especially if you are prepared…

We have talked a good bit about being prepared and proactive and how much that makes a difference, behaviorally, with your kids (and emotionally for the parents). Here are two posts that talk about preparation, but there are more.

Type “prevention” in the new search box on the right side of the website and catch up!

http://bit.ly/pyTgBs – What airport security has to do with your kid’s behavior

http://bit.ly/ILZuyi – party preparation and knowing when to say when

Praise for a parent

We often talk about what the most powerful rewards and reinforcers are for our kids. Nintendo? Ice Cream? Movie Night?

What is the most powerful parent reinforcer?

Praise about their child.

Make a point to praise a friend’s kid today. Tell your friend something great about their kid. These things too often go unsaid.

The difference between attention and ignoring

When thinking about what to reinforce, what to ignore, and what to punish, it is important to know its not necessarily how awesome the reinforcer is or how well you ignore, or even how powerful your punisher is. The important thing is the difference between them and when you use them.

For example, ignoring an undesirable behavior will not be effective if you ignore all the good ones too. If you reinforce a great behavior, it will not be as powerful if you indiscriminately reinforce all other behavior in the same way.

See more about better reinforcement,side effects of punishment and effective ignoring strategies.

Thought of the day – 4/23/12

Let’s face it….

Your kids’ behavior depends, in large part, on how you teach it. How you mold it. Yes, there is school, friends and others around, but parents are ultimately in control of most things that do, or can, affect behavior changes.


Sitting back and wishing your kid would behave differently, even if it is only under specific circumstances does nothing to improve or change the behavior.

In fact, it could make it worse if you continue to allow the circumstances and behavior to continue as they are.

If you are honestly concerned and truly cant figure out why a behavior happens or what you can do to make it better, let me (or another professional) know. But have you taken a good, honest look at it: when it is most likely to occur or when it is least likely to occur? Can you make it happen? How?  If you can answer those questions, you might be getting closer to a solution.

The bottom line:

Your child’s behavior will change when yours does. Change is hard. So is everything else worth doing.