Kahlon Family Services > Uncategorized > 5 Tips Towards Behavioral Change

5 Tips Towards Behavioral Change

(1) Use a schedule

It’s funny how much sanity you can get from a few simple pieces of paper with words written in marker. Schedules are beneficial for you, and for your child – you are teaching life skills of planning, organizing, time management and forward thinking. The schedule pictured is something you might find on an educational website, but you can make one from virtually piece of cardboard.

The keys to a useful schedule:

  • Actually USING the schedule every day! Being inconsistent will cause the schedule to have no point.
  • Making the schedule with your child, rather than just introducing it as a parentally imposed thing
  • Very few words on cards
  • Icons that a pre-reader will understand, after you explain it to them (or they could say what icon they would like when you make it)
  • Decisions about what to include and what not to include: Does your child have problems with transitions? Include them on the schedule.
  • Have a card with a “?” on it, to indicate if you don’t really know what will be happening at that time. Scheduled spontaneity is OK!
  • Put the schedule somewhere your child can access it any time of day
  • If you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (or with other change-related anxieties) consider making a mini schedule for the car. Speaking from experience, we have done it and it made the world of difference for the child on the go!
  • For travel, consider making a schedule on a small portable dry erase board that you can throw in your carry on bag.

(2) Balanced meals

Thinking big picture – over the course of a day – is your child getting all the nutrition he needs to function well? Children can be frustrating eaters – one day they eat everything, the next they eat nothing, then they love cheese and the next day they hate cheese, and yell at you for not knowing. The following exchange actually happened with one of our team and her long term 4 year old client with Autism-

KFS: You brought your cheese home from school – why didn’t you eat it?
KFS: You have always loved cheese. Since when do you hate it?
4yo: I haven’t liked cheese since 1945.

Parents can really freak out about their child’s nutrition. Try viewing your child’s diet in the course of days, rather than meals – and viewing balanced meals like the plate in the photo. Protein doesn’t have to be meat – plant based protein is just as (if not more) nutritious than it’s animal counterparts. The biggest key in feeding a child/any human is being savvy about the ingredients in packaged food and sticking to a predominantly whole foods diet. That means: If you couldn’t explain how to make it to your child, don’t give it to them. Eat things as naturally as possible, and home-make as much of your food as you can. Some children have had huge behavioral success after giving up dairy and/or gluten.

Focus on giving your child a high protein, low sugar breakfast so that she will be ready to learn at school. Pack a good quality lunch, or be keenly aware of the kinds of foods served at school. Set aside time to make dinner at home (from real ingredients) and you can even use this time to bond with your child, and teach them vital life skills. Children are never too young to learn healthy habits.

(3) Quality sleep

ECEC sleep

How much sleep do kids need? Here’s a guide from Web MD. Is your child getting enough sleep?

Never underestimate the value of good quality sleep. Get your child to bed early, so that you can have some time with your partner and so your child can be ready for their next day.

We will be blogging about SLEEP next week! Stay tuned.

(4) Consistency


The biggest mistake that we see parents making, is giving up before they see change. If you are implementing a new strategy – give it your best and give it a week. You can not see change overnight, and there is no such thing as a magic wand.

Also, be consistent with your responses to your kids. Secure attachment is built on the cornerstone of predictable, contingent responses. Trust is built when your child knows what to expect from you.

(5) Change your environment


Are you getting frustrated at your child for getting their fancy clothes dirty? Stop putting your child in designer clothes for preschool.
Are you mad at your child for breaking all of your “good” plates and cups? Buy those neon plastic plates and cups from Ikea.
Are you at your wit’s end because your child is using your expensive pens to draw with? Buy her some Crayola!
Are you frustrated because your child is refusing to eat their caviar/quinoa/sourdough/kombucha/kimchi for lunch? Try something a little less adult. (Or as my friend’s husband said to his wife, “Stop trying to feed our son like he’s a 45year old CEO of a not-for-profit organization”)

Some people become parents without ever having had any experience with children. That is totally OK, not everybody has access to kids before they start the journey of parenthood. There is something you should know: Kids don’t act like adults. Are there things that are maddening you about your child’s behavior that you could change to be more kid-friendly?

Having said that, you don’t need to regress to a fish stick only diet and alphabet songs on your car playlist. You know your child. Find a place somewhere in the middle.

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