Behave Your Best 

Why can’t they just behave? The truth behind your child’s unwanted behavior (and what to do about it!) 

Fact: we’re parenting our children in a different world than we ourselves were raised. Today’s fast-paced, digital, on-demand world has left most parents woefully unprepared to address their children’s unwanted behaviors. And if this new digital age wasn’t enough, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly threw many parents for a loop. A November 2021 article found that COVID-19 and its aftermath jeopardized performance in school and relationships at home, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. A different world, indeed.

Fact: today’s parents need sustainable solutions that work for today’s challenges. Resourcefully, some parents take advantage of digital resources and scour parenting-focused websites and social media accounts hoping to find a silver bullet. But despite a plethora of resources, many parents are out of ideas. And most parents are exhausted. Parents need sustainable solutions that are unique to their children. Our children need steady, peaceful solutions that encourage use of appropriate social skills. And everyone needs and deserves to feel confident, empowered and respected throughout the process.

About Behave Your Best

Behave Your Best was borne out of the passion to help families nationwide feel confident in their parenting and be equipped with custom solutions that fit their family’s unique challenges. While I am a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® (BCBA®), I am a parent first. Many parents assume that someone with my skill set must have perfectly behaved children but I can assure you I deal with unwanted behaviors as well. Between my personal and professional experience, along with my training, I’ve developed a system of parent resources that can be applied to all behaviors, ages, and abilities. Our foundational video, “Pretend You’re A Light Switch®” is available for FREE on our website.

The two most common areas I see families struggle with are avoidant behavior and subservience to instant gratification. As parents, when we better understand how our child’s behavior is serving them, we are able to reframe their needs. And when we have the right tools to address our child’s unwanted behaviors, difficult situations become easier to handle and our confidence as parents grows. Let’s explore these two common unwanted behaviors.

Unwanted Behavior #1: Avoidant behavior

As humans, we tend to avoid the tasks we think we may fail at – especially if we don’t have the right tools to accomplish the task. Your child is no different. Their unwanted behavior is a coping strategy that serves to delay, postpone, avoid, or get out of something that is difficult for them, or they would rather not do.

Unfortunately, children usually do not “grow out of” avoidant behaviors, they get better at them. This is where a behavior specialist comes in. Behavior specialists, also known as behavior analysts, are trained to assess the reasons your child engages in unwanted behavior and recommend solutions matched to those reasons, resulting in lasting behavior change.

Here are two ways you can begin to address avoidant behavior at home:

  1. Start small. Your child’s behavior is communicating that your current expectation is too big. Meet them where they are at and minimize the opportunity to avoid! Then gradually increase your expectations while building cooperation.

  2. Offer choices. Allow your child to feel in charge by offering meaningful choices around things they normally delay (like leaving the playground) or avoid (like getting dressed). If they won’t make a choice, we teach you to back up to smaller choices to prevent them from practicing avoidance.

Unwanted Behavior #2: Subservience to instant gratification.

Instant gratification is hindering your child’s success in a big way. And unfortunately, since both children and adults are trained to give and expect immediate gratification, it makes parenting around it challenging. A 2019 article in PsychologyToday talks about the importance of teaching children delayed gratification. The author states that the secret to teaching children delayed gratification is first learning to set an attainable goal, secondly seeing powerful parental models showcasing the behavior, and thirdly getting encouragement for actions along the way. He also shared five key strategies for developing delayed gratification to promote self-control.

These are just two of the common unwanted behaviors our specialists can help you address. Additionally, we have a library of On-Demand Workshops addressing additional behavior situations. If you need more, we’d love to help your family one-on-one – ideally before the unwanted behavior turns into something more. You can schedule a consultation right from our website!

If you no longer feel like you’re in the driver’s seat, you’re not alone. The good news is, there is a reason for your child’s behavior, which means there is a solution. Behave Your Best can help you develop solutions for the difficult moments so you can parent with confidence and create the peaceful home you deserve.

*Presented by Behave Your Best


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