Monday, November 7, 2011

my labor of love (pun intended)

Uhum! If I may direct your attention to the right side of your screen, right next to these words, you'll see a little box with a cute picture of little miss Em when she was a wee little thing.

No, no, don't click it. Not yet.

Great, now that I said don't do it, that's all you want to do, don't you? Oh alright, go ahead and click it.

I'll wait...

:: tidies up desk, sips some coffee, twiddles thumbs::

How was it? Unlike Tom Cruise, I can handle the truth. I would love me some honest feedback.

Why The Behavioral Child, you ask? Wow you do ask the greatest questions!
Let's see, I think I have to start at the beginning, a very good place to start (do, re, mi, anyone?) The idea of The Behavioral Child was germinating for quite some time in my busy brain. But precisely because of the busyness of said brain, I was never quite ready to put ink to the paper, so to speak. Finding Amy's blog and getting some success in the freelance writing business gave me the impetus to finally start a blog about what I know best: using proven scientific principles to raise a healthy and well-adjusted child. If you really want to know how the idea started germinating, read the next paragraph, otherwise, meet me after the picture.


Emily had just turned 2. My mom was on my case to potty train her. And since she was doing most of the babysitting while I was trying to finish grad school, I owed it to her to give her a less... shall we say.. messy child to watch. Of course I knew nothing about the topic, from the vantage point of having up to that point only been the cousin or the aunt of potty-train-aged children, so I hit the bookstores. What I found was appalling. Sure there were lots of books about the subject, but they were all wishy-washy, and mostly fluff. I was looking for something akin to a manual and they were giving me conjectures at best. My behaviorally trained mind was not going to be satisfied without hard data and some legitimate science to back it up. 

So I started at the very beginning, which as you can see seems to be the theme today, and which as it turns out, was the Azrin and Foxx study about toilet training, the behavioral way. More research, a CalABA convention (where I met Dr. Fryman, leading expert on all things poop, he was phenomenal!) and two seminars later, I had enough material for a thesis, never mind a two-year-old miss thing who was taking her sweet time. As soon as I came back from my trip, I cranked up the heat, stripped Emily to the bare essentials, and had her potty trained within a day and a half. For fear of sounding like a show-off, from that point on, I told people that I did it in one weekend, which they probably still didn't believe. Their loss, I suppose. My daughter was diaper-free, my mom was impressed (which always gets bonus points), and I had finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I quickly realized that when it came to raising children, most people repeated what they were handed down from their parents or role models, without questioning any of it. It seemed that everywhere I looked, I was seeing children sprawled out on store floors and in the middle of sidewalks, screeching at the top of their lungs, in full temper-tantrum mode. I started noticing parenting patterns that went against all the basic principles of human behavior. But all the parenting books, mags, and other sources of information were still just regurgitating the same old stuff, passed down intact, regardless of their success rate or their lack of adherence to any elementary psychological or developmental concepts. I vowed to pull up my shirtsleeves one day and remedy this. The more success I found while raising Emily and working with kids with developmental disabilities, the more emboldened I felt.

Cut to years later, when one day, I started blogging... about everything and anything unrelated to this, my one area of expertise and passion. Don't misunderstand, I love love love this venting/musing blog, but if I want to put my words to good use, I should probably be blogging about parenting. So I'm thinkin'... a little bit of how-to practical tips, a little bit of fundamental concepts and techniques from the applied behavioral analysis field, and a little bit of humor... does that sound like a good place to start?  

Any thoughts?


At 11/7/11, 7:47 PM , Anonymous Heather said...

So cute! Wait, oh great, now I have to start following you somewhere else too?

At 11/8/11, 8:45 AM , Blogger Gristle McThornbody said...

What a little dolly Miss Em is! You also get smart and well-adjusted thrown in there and you're a lucky woman and Em is a lucky little girl.

From the couple of posts I read on the other blog, I think I smell a book somewhere down the line. As you say, lots of parents could use some new advice that actually works.

At 11/8/11, 10:50 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Heather: Something (a certain 8-year old who shall remain nameless) tells me that you (and him) will follow me there too :)

Jerri: Awww, thanks! She's my pride and joy (obviously) both personally and professionally. But baby steps, darling, baby steps. I'm still trying to find the right voice for it, the right balance between entertaining and informative *cough* your feedback will be very appreciated *cough*


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