It’s easy to try new parenting strategies when things are going smoothly. It’s easy to remember them when everyone and everything are cool, calm, and collected. But that’s not when we need these techniques the most. We need them when we NEED them!

Don’t just read over these research-based methods and let them fly out of your mind. Use them when the going gets rough.

This weekend I used the heck out of some strategies to prevent meltdowns in my home thanks to the joy of teething. We had bloody gums, fever, snotty nose, interrupted sleep for everyone, and a cranky toddler in the house. Woo-hoo!

Here are a few ways I used ABA to make the weekend a little more tolerable (still not awesome. Teething is serious business).

  • Giving choices. Remember when I talked about that here? Well, this weekend was all about choices of highly preferred items. Baby girl and I played her favorite games and she got to eat her favorite foods- but she got to choose all of them! I also offered choices at a much higher frequency. Less downtime = less fussy time.
  • Replacement behaviors. Remember when I talked about that here? I worked hard to give her opportunities to communicate her wants and needs in her own way BEFORE the crying and crankiness could take over. Then I praised the heck out of whatever mode of communication she used. I’ll take odd hand gestures over crying and screaming any day!
  • Errorless learning. An oldie, but a goodie from this old post. I blocked the errors and set my girl up for success by prompting those replacement behaviors of communication. I even did hand over hand for baby sign language to ensure she responded and got that reinforcement she needed. Changing activities and offering choices at a much higher frequency also helped to prevent problem behaviors. 
  • Errorless learning and food throwing. My girl likes to pretend to feed me- or really feed me- the food from her high chair tray. She also REALLY enjoys throwing it to our puppy dogs. When she gets a piece of food in her hand ready to throw it, I move her hand and act like she was just feeding it to me. So then it’s a fun game and she forgets about feeding the dogs- instead we ‘take turns’ eating the rest of her food. Don’t worry- I’m not stealing my poor child’s dinner. I usually just to pretend to eat it since it’s soggy with drool anyway. 

When little miss thing doesn’t get good sleep, she gets cranky.
When mama doesn’t get good sleep, same applies.
Ginormous molars forcing their way into my girl’s mouth leads to not good sleep. Therefore, we need all the help we can get to not be a household of cranky females!

Using ABA helped. I’m still tired, but there was minimal crying and fussing in my life this weekend. ABA works. Thank goodness. And good night.

Need more ideas? My book Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom’s Sanity is available now and contains lots of research-based strategies for Moms to prevent problem behavior!