Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Do You Want To Know?

For those of you who don't know, the A to Z Challenge was kind of a launching point for Razzy's Corner. As a result, I don't really have any firm structure or schedule for this blog as May approaches. So I thought I would ask you guys what you would like to see. Do you have any particular parenting issues you would like to see covered? Do you have any ideas for weekly or monthly themes that you might find interesting? Let me know what you want and I will deliver to the best of my ability.


No matter how frustrating our children can be with their tantrums and their fits, it is important to remember that the feelings behind those tantrums are very much real. So while you still need to set limits and boundaries and stick to them, you should also validate how your child is feeling. Obviously you have to pick the best time to do so based on how you have chosen to handle problem behaviors. For instance, if you are ignoring tantrums, don't validate their feelings while they are throwing the tantrum. Instead wait until they have stopped tantruming and then approach them. Simply say "I know that makes you mad, but you can't throw tantrums".

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Using Time Out Effectively

Time out is probably one of the most discussed parenting/discipline techniques out there. The reviews are both positive and negative. Personally, I think Time Out can be a very effective tool; however, it has to be used appropriately.

The length of time out is one minute for each year of developmental age (i.e. 6 minutes for a 6 year old). This is the amount of time spent in the time out area, not the amount of time the child must remain quiet. This is a common misuse of timeout.

Time out should be done in a boring place where there is likely to be little entertainment. The whole idea of time out is to remove the child from any reinforcing stimuli. It is also supposed to be a punishment, so sending them to their room, which is filled with their toys, is not an effective way to use time out. Where ever you decide to have time out, make sure their are no dangerous objects around.

Use a kitchen timer of some sort to monitor the length of time out. This helps eliminate the child constantly asking "Can I come out yet?" "Is the time up?" This also helps parents to remember that their child is in time out. I have seen parents who get distracted and end up forgetting the child is in time out. Set the timer when the child sits in the time out chair or enters the time out area. Time begins when the child enters the time out are, not when they become quiet.

When sending a child to timeout, use a simple instruction with fewer than ten words, such as "No fighting. Go to time out". Do not lecture or scold. Keep your voice calm and even. Children will pick up on frustration or anger in your voice and this will escalate their behavior.

The child should be instructed to go to time out within 10 to 15 seconds of the behavior occurring. Time out is most effective when it occurs immediately. Children, especially young children, do not have the cognitive ability or attention span to make the connection between behavior and consequence if a large amount of time has elapsed.

For every 10 seconds of delay or arguing after being told to go to time out, add one additional minute up to a maximum of five additional minutes. For example if the child argues for 10 seconds say, "That's one more minute". If it continues for another 10 seconds say, "That's two more minutes". Do not go past an additional 5 minutes. Again, keep your voice calm and even.

Do not speak to or attend to the child during time out. Do not even make eye contact. Remember you are trying to deprive them of any reinforcers, including you.

If a child, under age 6, leaves time out before the time is up, simply place the child back in time out without speaking or making eye contact.

If an older (i.e. ages 6-12) child refuses to go to time out or leaves time out early, withhold a preferred activity or other reinforcer until the child completes the time out. For example, "You have no TV until you do your time out." If they continue to refuse, withdraw another preferred activity. Do not withdraw more than two activities. These activities must be withheld until the child does timeout or until the next day. Do not carry the consequence into the next day, as this is too far delayed to be effective.

When time out is over, you may say, "Time out is over." Do not counsel or discuss the behavior that results in time out. There is no evidence that discussing the infraction adds any positive effect to time out, and it may even reduce the effectiveness by providing attention at the end of the process.

If the child is still crying or shouting at the end of the time out period, set the timer for one more minute (or two additional minutes for a child over 6). Repeat this procedure, as needed, up to three times. Say only, "That's X more minutes for you to quiet down." and do not make eye contact. If the crying or shouting persists beyond this point, just ignore. (In no case should the child be allowed to leave time out without loss of a preferred activity unless they have been quiet for a minimum of 30 seconds.

Start by using time out for only one behavior and plan to use it consistently for at least four weeks. For children 4-12, describe the time out procedure with them before you try to implement it. Expect objections. Ignore them and do not negotiate. If you must speak say only. "We're going to do this." If objection persist, walk away. Do not engage in a debate.

Some parent will utilize a count to 3 method before placing a child in time out. This is acceptable as long as you consistently follow through when you get to three. If you push it past that, you have just lost all creditability with your child. One potential downside of counting to 3 is that children quickly pick up on the fact that they can continue to do something through 1 and 2 and will push this.

Another acceptable approach is to give them a choice to behave differently by saying "You have a choice. You can either finish your homework or you can go to time out". This brings me to another important point, which is that time out can sometimes be used by a child as an escape. For example, they don't want to pick up their toys, they throw a tantrum, you put them in time out, and all the sudden the toys are forgotten. For this reason make sure that they complete whatever task it was when they get out of time out.

Also, don't forget about extinction bursts.

Token Economy

A token economy is a specific system of behavior modification based on systematically using positive reinforcement. The initial reinforcer is a token, or some other item with no intrinsic value, which is later exchanged for other, more tangible, reinforcers.

The usefulness of a token economy system is that it allows for an immediate reward for a behavior while at the same time helping the child see that the reward can be even more significant in the future. It also gives the child more control because they can decide to cash in the tokens or save them up. One reason I really like this sort of system is that it allows for mistakes. No one is perfect and kids are going to have bad days. As a child is first working to change their behavior it can be frustrating when they have to get let's say stickers three out of five days, but their week starts out horribly and the mess up the first three days. They have no motivation to behave in the remaining days. A token economy allows for more flexibility and leaves room for bad days.

So here is how you do it:

  • Set goals for your token economy. A token economy is a tool which strives to modify inappropriate behavior and achieve specific goals. These goals can be behavioral
  • Take time to include the child in setting and defining goals
  • Begin by targeting only one to three goals so that the child is not overwhelmed
  • Set point or token values
  • Give a token value to each goal. You may choose to make each goal of equal value or to weight values. In the latter case, values should be assigned with respect to the difficulty of the goal
  • Determine time intervals for assessment. Intervals at which goal attainment will be judged and points will be awarded need to be determined before initiating the token economy. A good rule of thumb is, at the onset of the token economy, the interval should be half as long as the child is able to go without displaying the inappropriate behavior. Gradually, time intervals should be increased.
  • It is important that tokens are awarded contingent upon achieving the pre-specified goals.
  • Keep track of points or tokens earned. Keeping track of tokens earned can be done in many different ways. This allows the child to see and assess his or her progress.The child should always be able to find out how many tokens or points they have earned. Here are some suggestions:
    1) Tokens: Give the student(s) the tokens they have earned or put them in a spot where they can deposit them.

    2) Points: Using a point system is very valuable when targeting more than one
    behavior or goal. The child can see which goals they are reaching and in which areas they can still improve.
    4) A chart can be posted in the house
    in which the child's points are tracked. In this way, a child can see his or her progress over time. Keeping formal records is very important. This will help prevent misunderstandings and disagreements about the rules.
  • Decide on how the child can spend the tokens. A reward menu is typically the best way to do this. Assign each reward on the menu a point cost. Make sure you have a range of rewards.
Some people include a response cost into the token economy, which basically means that they take tokens away for misbehavior. While this can be done, I recommend avoiding doing so if at all possible. Remember that the overall goal here is to reward positive behaviors not to punish negative behaviors.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Switching Things Up

For today's post, I'm going to switch it up and ask my followers for some advice.

Zoey is a wonderful baby. She sleeps through the night no problem. She isn't really that fussy. Heck, she even cut two teeth without us even realizing it.

The problem comes at bath time. She absolutely hates it. We try to make it fun for her and sing and move her legs to splash, but she just screams bloody murder. It's become a matter of let's do this as fast as possible to end the misery. On the nights we give her baths, which is about twice a week due to the fact she hates them so much, we do it right before bed. We started off using an infant tub and then my mom bought her a bath seat to see if that helped, but it didn't really.

Has anyone else had this problem? Any advice on how to help Zoey enjoy her baths more?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reverse Psychology

Power struggles are no fun, but as parents we all too often find ourselves in them with our children. A recent article in Parenting magazine addressed this issue and some reverse psycholgy tricks parents can use to avoid many of them. (Can you tell from my recent posts that I recently got caught up on my magazine reading? Lol!)

Power Struggle: Child makes a huge mess with all their toys and then leaves them in pursuit of another activity.

Reverse Psychology Trick:
  • For younger kids turn clean up time into a game of Beat the Clock.
  • Ask them to be your helper.
  • State things in the positive instead of the negative (i.e. " We can go to the park as soon as you clean up your toys" instead of "You won't get to go to the park today if you don't clean up this mess")

Power Struggle: Child knows that getting their pajamas on means bedtime, so they fight you every step of the way

Reverse Psychology Trick:
  • Play calming music in the background while kids are taking a bath or getting ready for bed. This will relax them without them even realizing it.
  • Ask them three questions in a row that makes them say "yes". This will break their resistant pattern, plus make them feel heard and understood.
  • Offer choices (i.e. Do you want to wear your pink pajamas or you yellow ones)
Power Struggle: Child is a picky eater

Reverse Psychology Trick:
  • Give them small portions of everything you want them to eat and then don't say a word about the food. Don't even give them the opportunity to fight with you.
  • Give them dessert no matter what, but make it small (i.e. a single Hersey's kiss). No more bargaining to get him to eat and since the dessert is small you won't feel like you are giving in and it won't fill them up. So even if they eat dessert first, they will still be hungry and go back to the main entree.
  • Have one, unchanging food alternative your child can make himself if he doesn't want what you are serving. Make it easy, nutritious, and something always on hand (i.e. PB&J). Most children will grow tired of making their own meal after a few times and will eat what you cook.
  • If they refuse to eat anything, say "No problem. You can have a big breakfast in the morning".
  • Stay calm and have no emotional reaction.
Power Struggle: Child wants to wear clothes that you think look silly or are inappropriate for the situation and/or weather

Reverse Psychology Trick:
  • Clean out the closet and put away clothes that are out of season. Rotate items in the closet to allow for fewer choices, and get rid of things you feel are inappropriate (i.e. stained clothes, skirt you don't want her wearing)
  • Pick out a few different outfits the night before and then let the child pick which one they want to wear.
  • Let them learn it the hard way. If they don't want to wear a coat, don't fight it and let them face the consequences (within reason of course). If that seems to harsh, have them put whatever it is (jacket, long pants) in their bag to take with them.

What do you do to avoid power struggles?

Quest for Happiness

As I was reading my Parenting magazine last night, I came across an article that got me thinking about my own quest for happiness. It was about the secrets of happy families. It basically broke down happiness into "Six Essential Tenets".

1) Happiness is basic. Just ask your kids

Basically this states that it is the simple things in life that make us the happiest. The simple things like sleeping enough, eating regular meals, and being active. If you don't do these things you will be fussy.

2) Happiness changes over time

This highlights the fact that the relationship with your kids change over time as the reach new stages of development, and while there is a loss there, you should also think about the new things that are coming.

3) Happiness is contagious

On days when you just aren't feeling too happy, fake it til you make it. Act silly for your kids. This will encourage them to act silly, which will likely put you in a good mood (for real).

4) Happiness can't be controlled

Basically this stresses that you can not try to control the relationships in your life, so the next time your child challenges you try to hear them out. This promotes independent thinking.

5) Happiness doesn't always make you happy

This is highlighted by the fact that parents drive them selves crazy driving kids back and forth to soccer games and dance lessons, but the end result (i.e. a well rounded, social kid) brings them happiness in the end

6) Happiness just happened ... and you missed it

This stresses the importance of memorializing what's happening and embracing what you have right now

So what do you think? Are you following these tenets? What makes you happy?

I realized this morning as I watched through the monitor while my husband kissed our daughter goodbye before leaving for work that those simple moments are what make me happy. It doesn't matter if we have the newest and best things because we have each other. I think I need to practice tenet 6 more and remember to cherish those moments as they happen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Positive Reinforcement

B.F. Skinner, the researcher behind behaviorism, described positive reinforcement as superior to punishment in altering behavior. He maintained that punishment was not simply the opposite of positive reinforcement; positive reinforcement results in lasting behavioral modification, whereas punishment changes behavior only temporarily. In my experience, I have also found this to be the case.

You will get better results over time using positive reinforcement than you will get using punishment, and your child will also have better self-esteem. For this reason, whenever implementing a behavioral plan I try to get parents to start by only using positive reinforcement and then if they aren't satisfied with that, we will move to punishment. Most of the time we don't get there because reinforcement works.

The simplest way to provide positive reinforcement is through praise. Here is a link to 101 Ways to Praise Kids

Other types of positive reinforcement include behavioral charts, marble jars (will discuss in a future post), and allowances.

There are certain behaviors where you obviously want to apply an immediate consequence or punishment (i.e. physical aggression).


So as you can tell by the fact that this post is a day late, I have been feeling very overwhelmed lately. I meant to do a post for "O" discussing oppositional behavior; however, it just wasn't in the cards.

Work yesterday was crazy and hectic, then I had last minute tax stuff to get out, came home with a major migraine, and by the time I got Zoey down for the night I was just too tired to do anything other than go to bed.

I'm going to take some of the coping skills I discussed in the post about frustration and put them to good use. Then hopefully I can get my "P" post done tonight.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It doesn't matter the question, "Do you want an apple?" "Are you hungry?" "Are you tired?" "Can Mommy have a kiss?" "Do you want to walk?" "Do you want me to carry you?" your 1-year-old will likely answer "No."

Until a child is approximately 13 months old, they do not really know the difference between yes and no. Once they learn the difference, their go to response may still be "no". At this age they are learning that they have some choices and can make their own decisions, so even if they do want something, they may still reject it just because they can. This is a phase that most kids go through and for the most part parents have to ride out; however, there are some things you can do to help.

Cut down on your nos - If your child asks for something they can't have/do, instead of telling them no tell them later. If they are misbehaving, tell them stop or better yet tell them what you want them to do instead (i.e. "please use your walking feet" instead of "no, stop running"). Save no for when they are doing something that is unsafe.

Watch what he does, not what he says - If your child reaches for something or does what you ask after saying "no," he really meant "yes" -- no need to scold him! If he ignores you after he says "no," though, he probably meant it.

Don't ask - Tell him what you'd like him to do instead of giving him a chance to respond negatively (i.e. "It's time to put your pajamas on" instead of "Do you want to put your pajamas on?") Rather than asking whether he wants juice, sit his cup where he can reach it if he chooses.

These are just a few helpful hints to get your through the saying "no" for the sake of saying "no" phase. Remember patience is your friend.

Friday, April 15, 2011


One of the keys to a successful behavior modification plan is figuring out what will motivate your child to change. This is extremely important to keep in mind when you are developing any type of reward or reward menu, because if the rewards aren't things your child wants then they will not be effective.

The other part of this that is very important is that for something to be motivating, it has to be something that they don't get everyday or whenever they ask. I can't tell you how many parents I have had in my office who make this mistake. A very common one is using money/allowance as a reward. This will only work if you do not buy your child anything or give them money for anything except for when they have earned it. Because this is so hard to do, I try to steer parents away from using money as a reward for the purpose of a behavioral management plan.

The best way to help ensure that the rewards will be motivating is to ask your child what they want the rewards to be. Odds are if they help you develop the reward they will be motivated by it.

I will discuss what types of things you can use as rewards in my post on the 21st.

(Any questions regarding topics discussed can either be asked in the comments section or you can email me at

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I thought I'd take a break from giving advice, and instead talk about one of my favorite parts of being a mom, making my daughter laugh. She is very selective about what she laughs at. She gives smiles fairly easily, but laughter really has to be earned.

Her first laugh came after my husband made her bicycle kick me. Now a days throwing her up in the air or bouncing her are a great way to get a laugh. Blowing on her belly does not work at all, but she has just started to give raspberries at us.

What makes your little ones laugh?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Keeping Your Cool

Let's face it, kids grow up watching their parents and they learn pretty quickly how to push your buttons. Nearly every parent will at some point or another lose their temper with their kids. However, it is not productive to make a habit of this, in fact it is counterproductive, and frequently leads to bigger and badder tantrums and fights.

If losing your temper was effective, being a parent would be really easy. We’d simply have to wait until our child was annoying us too much, then we’d yell at him, and he’d go out and change his behavior. If yelling really worked, I would be out of a job and we would all have perfect kids. I will say that yelling can appear to work in the short term and I have had many parents tell me that they feel that if they yell at their children and spank them that they stop the behavior. My response to that is yes, but do they respect you or do they just fear you? Personally, I want my daughter to follow the rules I set because she respects me not because she is afraid of what I will do if she doesn't.

In addition, losing your temper is ineffective because the original problem is often forgotten in the heat of the argument, and goes unsolved after all is said and done. Instead of the child learning problem-solving skills from the parent to manage the particular issue at hand, those problem-solving skills get supplanted with the parent’s power thrusts toward the kids. This is not to say that using power is bad or immoral. It’s simply ineffective if the child doesn’t learn problem-solving skills. Simply put, if parents have problems with their child’s behavior and all they have in their parental tool kit are bigger hammers, the kids are going to develop bigger nails. The day will come when that parent will not be able to manage their child by losing their temper. It must be understood that learning how to solve problems and manage emotions is the primary task of childhood. And if the parent isn’t teaching that, it’s hard for someone outside of the home, whether it be a therapist, counselor or teacher, to pick up those pieces effectively.

So with that said, how to you keep your cool?

Tip #1: Take a DEEP breath! Just taking a few deep breaths will have a big impact on you physiologically and will really help you center yourself so to deal with the stress at hand and keep your cool with your kids. You have to slow the process down and taking a breath does just that. Don’t underestimate the power of this exercise! It really helps.

Tip #2: Take a Perspective Check. Perspective is our point-of-view, or the way we look at the world. Take a really good look at your children. See them for the precious little creatures they are. Know that they love you and just want to have some of your time and attention. They are not deliberately trying to drive you crazy (though at times it sure may seem like it!). They just want to be reassured of your love for them.

Tip #3: Get Goofy! Even though this may be the last thing you feel like doing when you are longing and praying for the little men wearing white coats to come and take you away so you can get a moment’s peace, this method really works! It provides a great distraction and soon your kids will forget that they were even upset!

Tip #4: Break out the Photo Albums. Get out the baby books, the home videos, the photo albums. Looking at these pictures and talking about your memories is an incredibly powerful exercise that will really change your mood and you will be much more patient with your child with those sweet images fresh in your mind.

Tip #5: Got Gratitude? Gratitude is one of the most powerful, transformative emotions that we as humans can experience. Get out a pen and paper if you can, or just start saying out-loud things you are grateful for. There is always something to be grateful for, if you choose to look for it. As we are able to really feel gratitude for all the miracles that literally saturate our lives, we are better able to see the beauty in everything around us. You will begin to see your children as the divine little creatures they are and leave the false images of being whiny and misbehaved to wither into dust.

Why it’s Cool to Keep Your Cool
You’ve heard the phrase, “living up to expectations.” We often relate this phrase to good or positive expectations that a child is excelling or achieving great things. However, this phrase also goes the other way. A child will live up to positive expectations or negative expectations alike. Your child is living up to your expectations right now. What are you expecting of your child? What are you telling them in those moments when you are frustrated? In exasperation, do phrases like “you’re so aggravating” or “why are you so difficult?” or “why can’t you ever do anything right?” or “you’re such a trouble-maker,” ever slip from your lips? Those phrases spoken in haste are labels that your child will begin to live up to, literally.

This is why it is so crucial that, as parents, we are able to keep our cool when the situation is tense. Once uttered, those words can never be taken back. A ‘sorry’ does little to neutralize the effects of hurtful words. So, on those craziest of days when you are at your wits end and overwhelmed, exhausted, and frustrated – take a deep breath, check your perspective, get a little goofy, look at those adorable baby pictures, and count your blessings.

(Any questions regarding topics discussed can either be asked in the comments section or you can email me at

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jet Setting - Traveling with an Infant

(This is part 3 in a series on traveling with an infant - Check out the other posts: What to Pack and Inside the Airport)

Well, we've got the bags packed, made it through security, and are on the plane. This is where my anxiety starts to kick in. How is Zoey going to do with the pressure change and the boredom that is bound to come on a long flight? What if she starts crying? What will the other passengers think?

Let's be realistic. She's going to cry. Hopefully it's not for the whole trip, but at some point she will cry. I mean sometimes I want to cry when flying. LOL! So the real question is, how can I make this experience more pleasant for everyone involved?

Here are some tips that I have found:

* One of the main sources of discomfort for infants traveling on airplanes is the change in cabin pressure when taking off and landing. Prepare for this by planning to nurse or give a bottle or pacifier to the child during take-offs and landing to help alleviate the pressure

*If your baby is awake and fussy, use a baby sling to walk up and down the aisle to give the baby a change of scenery

*Bring along an age-appropriate new rattle, book, toy, or stuffed animal to keep the baby amused, and don’t forget cool teething rings for babies needing something to chew

*It is perfectly alright to breast feed on the plane. You might want to bring along a small pillow for extra support. You can improvise and use few rolled up airplane blankets or baby blankets from home, and use an extra blanket for privacy. Book a window seat if you would like maximum privacy

*If you are using bottles, it is easiest to use the pre-measured, individual servings of formula. If using powdered formula, measure it out beforehand in individual baggies or in a container with compartments made just for this purpose. Bring along a small, soft-sided cooler for anything that is frozen or must be kept cool

*You can thaw out frozen breast milk in hot water using an airsickness bag. Just make sure it is one that is lined in plastic and won't leak. You can also use a collapsible bowl if you have one (can be found at pet stores)

*Many airplanes have fold-down changing tables in the restrooms. Ask the flight attendant which ones have the changing tables so you can plan accordingly. Be sure to bring along enough plastic bags to dispose of the diaper. If the baby is small enough, you may be able to change him or her in the seat, but as a courtesy to those around you, take the dirty diapers to the restroom for changing

*If you are worried about your baby crying during the flight and disrupting other passengers, ask to sit at the back of the plane, where the engine noise is louder, so the baby noise will only be heard by those in your immediate vicinity

*Remember that babies cry, that's what they do, so forgive yourself if yours cries during the flight. It will be okay

Monday, April 11, 2011

Inside the Airport - Traveling with a Baby

This was supposed to be my "I" post from yesterday. I started it in the morning and then the day just got away from me with work and coming home to an extremely tired and fussy baby. So today you will get "I" and "J"

(This is part two in the traveling with an infant series. Check out part one: What to Pack)

So you've got your bags all packed and now it's time to go to the airport and navigate security. Scary, I know. Here are some tips to hopefully make things a little bit easier.

*Check in as much baggage as possible to avoided feeling overly bogged down

*You should be able to check your car seat for no addittional fee and gate check your stroller for no fee

*Most of the information I have found says that when traveling with children, you can not check-in online due the need for the airline to verify the child's age. This may vary carrier to carrier, so I suggest you call the airline to find out

*If you don't think you will need a stroller at your destination, and can handle any layovers without one, consider leaving it at home and carrying your baby in a sling/infant carrier.

*Take your baby out of the stroller or infant carrier prior to reaching the security line. The stroller will usually have to be emptied and screened manually by a checker. Some airports do not require that you remove the child from a front or back-carrier, but you will have to send a car seat carrier and folding stroller through the X-ray machine.

*Keep breast milk, formula, or baby food in a separate container from your other carry-on luggage so you can easily declare it to security.

*Try to wear comfortable, slip-on shoes when traveling, since you are required to remove your shoes when you go through screening. If you're carrying a baby, it can be difficult to bend down and lace up your sneakers when you come out, so that's one less thing you have to juggle

* Most airlines no longer allow preboarding for families traveling with young children (not really a tip, but something you should be aware of)

*When you get to the gate, gate-check your stroller by getting a tag for it and leaving it at the end of the jet-way, just before you board the plane. You pick it up when you get off the plane at the same spot. Make sure you fold it when you leave it to make sure it isn't damaged by luggage handlers who may not know how to appropriately fold it. Airlines consider this a fragile item, so they will not pay if it is broken.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Heading on Vacation - What to pack for your baby

Today at Razzy's Corner I am combining the A to Z Challenge with Weekwork (check out all the participants in Weekword at Silver Linings 4 Me). This week's word is Anticipation, and the thing I am most anticipating right now, and stressing out about, is a trip home to visit family in May, which means the first time flying with a baby. So I figured I'd do some research to ease my own mind and get prepared, and then pass that info onto all my wonderful followers.

(There is a lot to cover in this area, so I will be breaking it down into a a few posts)

Let's start with packing and what you should bring with you for baby

In Your Carry On/Diaper Bag:

* An extra set or two of clothes for baby, and an extra shirt or sweater for you. This is obviously for that blow out diaper that will occur at the worst possible time, as well as spit-up.

* Diapers, wipes, diaper rash ointment. Pack more diapers and wipes than you think you will need—anticipate delays. Babycenter recommends one diaper for each hour you will be in transit.

*Disposable changing pads – Huggies makes a disposable changing pad that can be used once and thrown away. If you don’t care for these, like me, make sure your changing pad is removable and not attached to your diaper bag. Airplane restrooms are tiny, so you will need to take the pad out and make it fit the space.

*Plastic bags to dispose of the mess. It could be helpful to pack each diaper in its own plastic bag so you are certain you don’t run out.

* Whatever your baby eats. TSA regulations permit baby formula, breast milk, and baby food in carry-on luggage, so long as you are traveling with your child. You will not be asked to test or taste these, but you may be asked to open the containers. You have to declare these items once you get to security. Don't forget small plastic dished, spoons, and disposable or vinyl bibs if your baby easts solids.

* Small bottles of hand sanitizer, baby wash, and baby lotion

* Favorite toys, blankets, teddy bear, or pacifier or other soothing tool. Bring extra pacifiers in case they get dropped and lost, plus pacifier wipes to sanitize any dropped pacis.

* A new toy to distract the child.

* If your baby is teething, bring some teething rings and biscuits for them to chew on. Gel filled teethers are allowed in your carry-on.

* Medications needed for you and/or your child, prescriptions, and your pediatrician's phone number.

* Bottled water and a snack for you. Snacks shouldn't be an issue, but water will have to be purchased once you are through security. Most domestic flights no longer have meal service (except in First Class), so be prepared.

* Sling or front carrier to help you get safely through crowded areas (i.e. airport). You might even consider this in lieu of a stroller.

* Birth certificate or vaccination records as baby's proof of identity.

In Your Checked Luggage

* Baby Clothes—you can organize your baby’s clothes using resealable plastic bags, so you don’t have to rummage through the entire suitcase to find a matching sock. Pack an outfit or two for each day (including sleepwear) in a gallon-size bag. Use the clean empty bags for soiled clothes later on.

* Extra diapers & wipes—you might assume that you can find these items at your destination, but that is not always the case. If it is not an area you are familiar with, you may have trouble locating the brand you normally use. If you are using cloth diapers, be sure to pack detergent so that you can soak them as soon as you arrive and do laundry when needed.

* If you are visiting family, you can ask them to help you find the nearest store that carries your brands of diapers, formula, etc. You can also order large items, such as formula, to be shipped to your destination, if you are planning a longer trip.

* Clothes for You: Take a few extra tops for spit-up, spills, and other disasters mentioned above.

* Portable crib or playpen for your child to sleep in. This will incur an extra fee, so if you are traveling to visit family or friends, see if someone has one you can borrow. You might also consider buying a used one once you get to your destination form somewhere like Once Upon a Child. This could actually be cheaper than paying a checked luggage fee each way.

* Inflatable bathtub to make bath time easier at your destination.

* Car seat and stroller. If you are checking your car seat, I recommend buying a travel bag for it to protect it from rough handling. Most airlines allow you to check your car seat at no additional cost. The same thing goes for your stroller

* Extra medication, sunscreen, diaper rash lotion, and other toiletries. You may not be able to find your favorite brand at your destination, so pack a few extras, just in case. Put these in clear plastic bags in your luggage so they can be seen by safety inspectors when they open your bag. Plastic bags also protect against spillage.

Can you guys think of anything I have missed?

Giving In

We try so hard as parents to be consistent and stay strong because we know that this is best, but let's face it, kids can out last us. There job is basically to play and try and get their needs met, and to them that cookie is a need not a want, but as parent's we have so many other jobs that we are more easily worn down.

So even though I acknowledge that fact, I still need to stress the importance of consistency when it comes to behavior modification or any discipline technique. If you consistently say no to that cookie 8 out of 10 times, but give in those other two times, that is just enough of a reinforcer that your child will continue to pester and whine and throw temper tantrums in an attempt to wear you down again.

That is why I highly recommend picking your battles. Some of the best wisdom you can develop as a parent is that you can't win them all. So why not let the kids have a few from the start and save the fight for the ones that really matter. This will allow you to have more emotional energy to stay strong and not give in when it really counts. Plus it will lead to an overall happier home.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Today let's acknowledge the frustration that sometimes comes with being a parent. Sometimes there are just times when you want to rip your hair out. All of that is very, very normal. It's also a common feeling that if not dealt with can lead to all kinds of problems in all the different areas of you life.

If you don't learn to cope with your stress you are more likely to lash out due to frustration and irritability. So don't forget to take some time for yourself to relax and unwind.

I know, I know, you don't have the time to focus on yourself because you are focused on your children. Well my response to that is you can't be everything for everyone if you can't be anything for yourself. If you don't take the time to relax and unwind, you will eventually run out of gas and either not be able to be there or you will be so irritable that no one will want you to be there.

So stop the excuses and spend some time each day focusing on you. If you feel that is too much, at least commit to some time each week for right now. Schedule it if you need to. Here are some of the things I do to relax:

Read a good book or a fun magazine
Take a relaxing bath

Spend time engaging in hobbies
Spend time with my husband

When all else fails

Now sometimes as parents we take ourselves way too seriously because the job of being a parent is a big one. However, you also have to be able to laugh. When I find myself taking it too serious I consult the Ill-Advised column over at The Stir. Whether sarcasm is your cup of tea or not, find a way to laugh.

What do you guys due to relax and take some time for yourself?

Extinction Burst

Today we are going to tackle one of the most important concepts when it comes to behavior modification, extinction bursts.

Here is the wikipedia explanation of an extinction burst: While extinction, when implemented consistently over time, results in the eventual decrease of the undesired behavior, in the near-term the subject might exhibit what is called an extinction burst. An extinction burst will often occur when the extinction procedure has just begun. This consists of a sudden and temporary increase in the response's frequency, followed by the eventual decline and extinction of the behavior targeted for elimination.

Ok, now what exactly does that mean? Basically it means that when you are trying to decrease the frequency of a behavior, things will actually get worse before they get better. It makes sense when you think about it. Why would a child just willingly give up the small amount of control they have in their lives? (That's pretty much what most problem behaviors are; an attempt to control things). We can't expect them to give up without a fight, but if we stick to our guns and show them that this old way of behaving isn't going to work anymore, they will eventually give up the old behavior.

Why is this concept so important? Well, I believe that this is why a lot of parents feel that behavioral modification or various discipline techniques do not work. I can't tell you how many times parents have been in my office and told me "We've tried that and it doesn't work". Upon further discussion I find out that they tried it for a week or two and they felt like it made things worse, and they're right it did. However, if they had kept at it for another week or two they would have likely seen a decrease in the problem behavior.

For those of you who have ever watched Super Nanny, you might remember an episode where she is teaching the parents about effectively using Time Out. During this episode (and really it's any episode she ever done about time out), the parents have to return this girl to the time out spot over and over and over again, and her tantrum becomes worse and worse and worse. But in the end, and we're talking hours, she learns that the fit isn't going to work and she stays in the room for the required time. I remember going through this same process with a family when I did in-home behavioral consultation work. I returned the kid to time out over and over and over again. I set that timer over and over and over again. I was exhausted by the end of it, but it was what needed to be done to stop the behavior. Is this a lot of work? Yes!!!! Is it worth it in the long run? Yes!!!!

So next time you are trying a new discipline techniques, remember that it will get worse before it gets better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

This picture actually has nothing to do with an Extinction burst, but I found it when I was doing a Google image search and thought it was pretty funny. Here is the original source

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Developmental Milestones

Today at Razzy's Corner we are going to take a step away from the discussion of behavioral charts to talk about something that has been very much on my mind since I had my first child 5 months ago, developmental milestones. Now despite the fact that I studied child development and work with kids, after having Zoey I found myself wanting to check and check some more when she should be doing what. In all of my obsessive Googling, I came across a developmental chart that I really like and want to share with you today. It spells out some of the key developmental milestones from birth to 3 years old. The reason I like it so much is that it breaks each age down to Mastered Skills, Emerging Skills, and Advanced Skills. I like this because it allows me to feel great pride in the fact that for things like head control and bearing weight on her legs Zoey is considered advanced. But more importantly it gives me piece of mind to know that I don't need to be stressed by the fact that she hasn't rolled over in both directions yet because at this age that is an emerging skill that only half of kids can do. Now I know that these charts are just guidelines and each baby is different and really unless there are major delays I don't need to worry, but having some sort of reference is nice.
(Zoey rolling over)

For those of you that have raised kids or are doing so now, what sort of anxiety did you have and how did you reassure yourself?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

C is for Creatitivity

Today I'm going to talk about creativity in terms of the role it plays in a successful behavioral chart. We've all seen the cookie cutter behavioral/chore charts that are out there, and don't get me wrong, they have their place and can be effective. However, when dealing with a child who just doesn't seem to keen on the idea of a behavioral chart in the first place, a cookie cutter chart isn't going to cut it.

To increase your odds of success, you should come up with a creative way to incorporate something your child is really into. Some examples of this can be seen in my last post of behavioral charts. In addition to the soccer chart shown, I've created charts for football and baseball. The stuffed animal chart was an idea for a child who really loved their stuffed animals. I even did one for a child who was really into balloons. The chance to be creative, and the challenge of developing an idea for some of the more unique interests, is really what I love about creating behavioral charts. No matter the interest, if you put on your creativity hat, you can come up with something.

The goal is to tie in the child's interest in order to get them more excited about the idea of the behavioral chart. It's even more successful if you can get your child involved with making their chart. So bust out the poster board and markers and let's get creative.

Weekword - Amuse

With all the craziness of the A to Z Challenge kicking off on Friday, I totally spaced that I signed up over at Junebug's Musings to do Weekword. This week's word was Amuse. Below is a video of my daughter, Zoey, in her bouncer. She learned how to bounce in it this week and this has been by far the most amusing this for me this week. What do your kids, four legged ones included, do that amuses you?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Behavior Charts

A to Z Challenge - B is for Behavior Charts

I love me some behavior charts!!! I love creating behavior charts and I love helping others create them. In reality, Razzy's Corner grew out of my love for making charts. I initially wanted to offer a service to make custom behavioral charts; however, the logistics involved with that kind of endeavor was just to much to handle right now, so I tabled that. Then I found myself giving advice to friends on Facebook and decided maybe a blog would be a good way to feed my creative bug. Then came Razzy's Corner.

I want to put more work and time into the posts dealing with behavioral charts, so I won't really get into it in this post since one of the suggestions for this challenge was to keep posts short. However, I will share with you a few of the charts I have created. These are all samples charts I have created in the past as a teaching tool when working with interns.

Soccer Chart
This chart is targeting the behaviors of Listening, Disrespect, and Aggression. I always try to keep things positive (We will discuss this more in the next post), but certain behaviors require immediate consequences (i.e. physical aggression). In this chart, the child makes his way towards the goal (dribbling)by following directions, being respectful, and staying calm. He gets warnings (yellow cards) for not listening and being disrespectful, and a red card for aggression. Two yellow cards equals a red and red means he has to take a place backwards on the chart. Once he reaches the goal he gets a reward.

Cars Chart
This chart has a lot of flexibility worked in (also discussed in an upcoming post). He earns a car each day of the week if he does the target behaviors (not listed on chart to allow for flexibility) and if he gets the number of cars needed during the week he will get to pick a reward from the Gas Station (a reward menu would typically be under the section of the chart titled Gas Station).

Flower Pot Chart
This is probably one of my favorite charts ever because with my limited creative talent I was still able to somehow manage to get the creative idea I had in my head to look halfway decent in real life (I struggle with this). This chart is based solely on rewards and has the child earning flower petals when she does the target behaviors (i.e. pick up toys, take a nap without crying, and feeding the cat). When she gets enough flower petals (it could either be one flower full or all three depending on how the chart is set up) she gets to pick a reward from the Gardener's Shed.

Stuffed Animal Chart
This is an example of a chart where my creative mind was hindered by my lack of actual creative talent. LOL! The idea was that for the behaviors listed on the lid of the toy box (i.e. complete homework, do what asked, straighten room) the child would earn a stuffed animal to go on the bed. When they earned enough stuffed animals (this is where some flexibility is built in) they can earn something from the reward menu (it is left off the chart in this case). This chart also has some consequences in that if the child does any of the behaviors on the Time Out Rug (i.e. hitting or getting 3 strikes) they lose a stuffed animal.

So those are just a few examples. We will be going into some of the finer details of making a successfulness behavior chart in later posts and hopefully by the end of the A to Z Challenge, readers will know what they need to in order to make their own highly successful chart.

If anyone wants me to help them create a chart, just leave me a comment with your email address or email me at

(Any questions regarding topics discussed can either be asked in the comments section or you can email me at