Posted in Compliance, Parenting, Uncategorized

Super Simple Sticker Charts (They Don’t Have to Be Complicated!)

I’m all for fancy behavior charts and sticker charts, but they’re not absolutely necessary.  Your child might be content with a simple table and some fun stickers.  If you don’t want to mess with finding the perfect one or tweaking one that someone else made, it can be fairly easy to make your own.  I have two examples to share below.

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This first one would be an example of a sticker chart to work on bedtime routine – you have your days of the week running along the top and the tasks of the routine along the side.  The kiddo would get to put a sticker for each task on each day, so potentially a total of 4 stickers per day.



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This second one could be for any behavior and splits the day up into two different time frames.  So, for example, if you’re working on Following Directions, your kiddo would get to put a sticker in the “Before Lunch” on Monday square if they follow directions between waking up and lunchtime.

These are simple to make in Microsoft Word or Excel or by hand (I’d want a ruler because I’m a bit of a perfectionist).  They look boring to start, but most kids LOVE putting stickers on, so it won’t be long before that chart will be filled up with shiny (possibly glittery) stickers.

Posted in Uncategorized

Five Ways to Teach Your Child Gratitude

Thanksgiving is coming up and many are posting what they are grateful for daily on social media. I love that, but also believe it’s important to show gratitude December – October as well! I am definitely guilty of not giving thanks enough. I want t She show gratitude more and I want my daughter to have a grateful heart as well.

What I’ve done is come up with a list of 5 ways to teach gratitude/thankfulness. They are easy enough for kids, but might also be useful for adults as well! Try them out with your kiddos.

1. Have your kiddo make a list of people/things they’re grateful for. It can be a list of 5 things or 50 things! Then talk about the list and why they are grateful for that thing/person.

2. Have your child make a list of things/traits about themselves that they are grateful for. This one might be a little trickier for kiddos, so help them out with some examples if needed.

3. Have your kiddo write Thank You notes and hand them out. Again, your kiddo might need some help if they cannot write, but have them tell you what to write (and write it word for word), then have them give or mail the card.

4. Have your child TELL people they are grateful. Practice saying “Thank you for ________” with your child, then have them say it to the person (teacher, parent, sibling, etc.).

5. Thank You Jar/Cup – have your kiddo write what they are thankful for (or write it from them) on little slips of paper. Then fold them up and put them in a jar. If you have your kiddo write things about a specific person, they could then give that jar as a gift.

Additionally, one of the most influential things you can do is to MODEL THANKFULNESS! If your kiddo sees you consistently saying “thank you” and talking about what you’re grateful for, they will likely model that behavior!

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts on the Treatment of the UCLA Players from a Behavior Modification Viewpoint

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the 3 UCLA basketball players who were accused of shoplifting in China. From what I’ve read, the players would have faced some pretty severe consequences (I read up to 10 years in prison) in China, but our President was able to work with China’s president to expedite their return home. Before I get into why this may not have been the best thing to do, let me say that if I was a parent of one of those players, I would be SO grateful that they were able to come home. Thank God for diplomacy, right? So I’m not necessarily trying to bash everyone involved, but there are some things to consider from a behavioral standpoint.

To start, those players just learned that the rules don’t necessarily apply to them, because they’re “special” in some way. Stealing is stealing… it’s unlawful in the United States as well, so it’s not like the players can claim ignorance to the law. Sure, China’s punishment might be considered “extreme” compared to what we have in the U.S., but the players knew what they were doing is wrong. And they just learned that, because they are good at basketball, they can get out of the consequences. So from a behavior modification standpoint, they were able to get out of the full punishment, so it’s more likely that they’re going to do something like this again… because they might think that the rules will continue to not apply to them. It’s the same as if you tell your kiddo there’s going to be a punishment for a certain behavior, then you don’t actually follow through… your kiddo is going to think they can get away with it again and again.

The other thing to consider is the amount of attention these players are getting. There have been all kinds of articles written about this event and unfortunately, attention (yes, even bad attention) is often reinforcing. This isn’t some special revelation I’ve had… media coverage of people who have broken the law or hurt others has been scrutinized for years, but it continues to happen. For some, the media coverage might be really embarrassing and a negative consequence, but it’s just as likely that the media coverage is reinforcing. The players just learned that shoplifting will earn them media attention… so if they want more media attention down the road, shoplifting might be a way to get it.

So the two rules of consequences that weren’t adhered to are follow through and limiting attention for negative behavior. As I said before, I’m not trying to condemn the actions of those involved. My objective in this is mostly to point out that the same principles that we use for children with negative behaviors applies to adults as well.

Posted in Uncategorized

Each One of Us Matters: A Poem About Acceptance

I wanted to share a fun little poem I wrote after reading multiple news stories about people being intolerant of differences.  The style is partially inspired by all the Dr. Seuss books I’ve been reading my daughter.  It presents the differences people may have in a silly way, which I think might help kids to understand that our differences don’t have to be a huge barrier to accepting each other.


People come in all sizes and shapes
Some love strawberries, some love grapes

Some are boys and some are girls
Some have straight hair, some have curls

Some have red hair, others have blonde
Some have lots of hair, some have none

Some have dark skin, some have light
Some need glasses, others have perfect sight

Some have two moms and others two dads
Some watch the football game, some just the ads

Some have tattoos, some have scars

Some see figures when they look at the stars

Some are friendly, others are shy
Some prefer cake, others prefer pie

Some walk on feet, some roll on wheels
Some ride on bikes, some in automobiles

Some like burgers, others never eat meat
Some have messy homes, others have neat

Some eat peanuts, some eat none
Some like the cold, while some like the sun

Some like donkeys, while others like elephants
Some work at schools, while a few will be president

Some are fast, while others are slow
Some like to sleep a lot, some are always on the go

Some sleep on their tummies, others sleep on their backs
Some live in mansions, some live in shacks

What’s important is not what sets us apart
What’s most important is what’s on the inside, in our heart

We should always be kind to everyone we meet,
Whether they like their food salty, sour, or sweet

Each one of us matters; we all are unique
Whether we have few or lots of freckles on our cheeks

Posted in Emotion Regulation, Uncategorized

Treasure Hunt Bottles for Emotion Regulation

When you have an upset kiddo, distractions are your best friend!  It’s pretty hard to think about being upset, and why you’re upset, when engaged in a fun activity.  Treasure Hunt bottles (sometimes called I-Spy bottles) are a great distraction for your little one, and can distract them long enough to help them calm down.  Some people (ME!!) aren’t great at DIY projects, but these are fairly simple to make and can be made without spending a lot of money.

The other great thing about making it yourself is that your child can be involved and make the treasure hunt bottle according to their own personal tastes, which will make it more appealing when they are upset and in need of a change to regulate.  Here’s a blog I found with fun instructions on how to make these sensory bottles:

The above blog has instructions for using rice (rainbow rice – how fun!), but I’ve seen these made with sand as well.  Have fun!

Posted in Uncategorized

Emoti Dolls

I saw a product while watching The Toy Box called Emoti Dolls.  They are plush dolls whose facial features can be changed to show different emotions.  The company website says “One Doll, Infinite Emotions.”

Check out the website for Emotiplush Therapy Dolls.

Looks like a fun doll, but also – what a learning tool!  There are kiddos who struggle to understand emotions and struggle to recognize emotions by facial expressions.  This doll seems like it would be a great tool to practice recognizing emotions in others!

Posted in Uncategorized

Using Ignoring in Therapy When A Child Refuses to Engage

Every therapist has been there… we get children who sometimes do not want to be in our office and do not want to talk to us.  Better yet, we get a child who wants to play with all of our toys, but won’t answer questions or engage at all.  One effective strategy I have found is ignoring, but there’s a method to it.  With some kiddos, you can just ignore and remove toys, and they’ll eventually start talking to you because they want your attention.  But I have had some STUBBORN kiddos, who will just sit and stare at the wall.

One strategy I’ve used in that scenario is to ignore, but have a grand time playing (without them) with whatever toy they’ve chosen.  Here’s an example:

I had a kiddo who did NOT want to tell me about his day (it had been a bad day).  He had chosen to build something with K’Nex pieces and we had already started building.  He refused to answer my question, so I scooted the pieces away from him and reminded him that if he wanted to play, he needed to talk to me and answer my question.  I then began building something else with the K’Nex pieces… while talking to myself about what I was going to build and (pretending that I was) having a blast!  At first, he ignored me, but after a minute or two I saw him start to peek at what I was doing out of the corner of his eye.  After a few minutes, I reminded him that he was welcome to build with me as soon as he answered my question.  Initially, he still refused to talk, so I continued playing, but after a few more minutes, he caved and said he was ready to talk.  I repeated the initial question and once he answered, I showed appreciation and we began building together again.  Were his answer super elaborate?  No.  Did he pretend he was miserable the whole time?  Absolutely.  But he participated and we were able to make some progress.

This won’t work with all kids.  I had a 9 year old sit in my office for almost 30 minutes once and refuse to talk or even look at me.  It happens.  Despite my effort to engage by showing empathy, normalizing, changing the subject, and having him express his thoughts and feelings non-verbally (drawing or writing), he still refused to engage.  It happens.  However, the more tools/strategies we have to draw a kiddo out, the more likely we are to find one that works with a particular child… because they’re all so different and what works for one may not work for the other.

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Practice Accepting Consequences with Chutes and Ladders

Accepting consequences seems to be fairly difficult for most children I work with.  Let’s face it, no one LIKES consequences, whether it’s a time-out, having to do an extra chore, or losing money.  One fun way to practice accepting consequences is by playing the game Chutes and Ladders.  Even better?  I have a shorter version of the game in my office that shows pictures of children doing something they (probably) shouldn’t at the top, then shows a consequence at the bottom.

When I play this game with children, I pre-teach that they will practice the steps to accepting consequences each time they land on a chute.  They then practice saying “ok” and using a calming strategy to stay calm.  I provide praise and corrective feedback, if necessary.  I also discuss with children the benefits of staying calm when receiving a consequence.

Posted in Uncategorized

How to Practice Positive Social Interaction with Legos

Little boys like to play rough (most of them, anyways).  Let them play together outside and games involving zombies and superheroes are common, where they’re running at each other and pretending to shoot weapons at each other.  Let them play with action figures and, unlike girls who sometimes “play house,” boys will often “fight” with the toys or engage in other aggressive play.  Some blame tv and video games; I don’t really care what causes it, I just want to work on it!

Little boys seem to love Legos and really seem to enjoy building robots out of Legos.  Of course, once the Legos are built, it’s typical for them to want to “fight” or “race.”  So instead, I practice with them more prosocial interactions.  This includes having our robots play nicely together, having the robots “high five” and “hug,” and also engaging in appropriate conversation between robot characters.  Then we get to role-play those same skills, and discuss using them in the real world.  It’s one of my favorite activities to use with kiddos who are having a hard time with boundaries and keeping their hands to themselves.