Friday, October 20, 2006

Behavioral Strategies

We brought Jada in for a doctor's visit this morning because she had
been breaking out in hives here and there this week and we were
wondering about a possible food allergy. While we got some good
advice on that issue, we also got some really good advice on
behavioral strategies.

For one, we're going to try to work the whole "time out" thing into
our repertoire of responses to her escalating tantrums. So that she
learns that just yelling and kicking louder and louder won't work, we
put her in her crib and walk away (or, if she's in her high chair, a
very popular place for meltdowns, we leave the room). I'm very
excited about this one, because save distracting her onto a new
activity (which probably works seven out of ten times), my only other
weapon here was to ignore her, which sometimes only caused her to yell
louder and louder, to the point where you do have to respond, which
only reinforces bad patterns.

Secondly, Jada can tend to be very clingy with Amy, which can be hard
if Amy needs even just a couple of minutes to take care of something.
So our strategy there is going to be to pick her up for a minute but
then put her back down for a minute, and then gradually increase the
time she's down, until she's more easily able to play by herself for
ten or fifteen minutes at a time. (Amy'll just have to save the times
she needs an hour or two to herself for when Jada's asleep or I'm
home.)

Finally, while we'll continue to intersperse a multitude of languages
so her ear becomes attuned to them, we're going to try to keep the
basic commands we're teaching her to one language, whether English
("please"), Mandarin ("ching zuo" = sit down, please), or Taiwanese
("shoo shoo" = put things away), so that she has those in her arsenal
for when she needs to communicate with us, lest she get frustrated and
throw a tantrum.

Our next visit will likely be right around Jada's second birthday, so
we really are entering that wonderful stage in life called "the
terrible two's." Hopefully, with these and other behavioral
strategies, the two's won't be so terrible.

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