Weigh, Test and Measure. That’s the name of the game. When attempting to implement a form of discipline, training or work toward a goal in your home there is an easy way you can go about it. Hear me out, naysayers, I know parenting is not formulaic. But even the best chef knows there certain ratios that work and others that don’t. When your job’s on the line, winging it just doesn’t cut the mustard. Nobody may be threatening to fire you at your house, but without a plan you could end up begging for an early retirement. In Florida. Alone.
What do I mean by weigh, test + measure? Ah, I thought you’d never ask.
Weigh. Determine what the “issue” is. Is there a behaviour you want to get rid of? Is there a goal you’d like to work towards? Is there a habit that needs eradicating? This step is where you determine what you want and make a plan to get there.
Test. This is where you test out your plan. What a creative name. I know.
Measure. Determine the result. Did it fully work? Did it sorta work? Are things worse? Here is where you step back, evaluate the outcome and go forward again. Continue your test for at least a week or two.
Tweak if necessary. Plan A didn’t work, no worries. Change it up and give Plan B a shot.
Let me give you two examples.
Example 1 – The Terrible Tantrums
Weigh – You want to nip the tantrum habit in the bud (although tantrums aren’t always so bad). You determine to eradicate this behaviour by completely ignoring the tantrum then immediately giving positive feedback on other areas when possible.
Test – Toddler emotional breakdown on aisle 5. He hits the deck like there’s an air raid in progress and screams. You thoughtfully step over him as you continue down the aisle and keep moving away, though keeping him in view. The next positive thing you can find to praise him on you do. Continue this method for at least a week.
Measure – The frequency of tantrums decreased until there hasn’t been one in two days. You determine the “ignore the bad behaviour which was only for attention anyway” method worked in this particular case.
Example 2 – The Picky Eater
Weigh – You noticed something is going awry at mealtime as your precious princess will only eat bananas and fish sticks. Since too many bananas constipate and fish sticks may or may not have real fish, you need to broaden her palette. You will introduce new foods in small amounts with the fish sticks and bananas in an attempt to expose her little by little.
Test – At breakfast you cut some bananas and strawberries hoping this is a winning combination. After all, it’s a best selling smoothie at Jamba Juice, right? At lunch and dinner you give fish sticks and carrot sticks or potatoes.
Measure – Hm. She picked the bananas out of the bowl and left the strawberries. The carrots ended up on the floor and the potatoes added a lovely texture to her hair and the newly upholstered seat cushions.
Tweak – Time to pull out the big guns here.
Test – No bananas or fish sticks are offered at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Most food is refused, and grazing occurs. Lots of milk, water and juice are offered so as not to risk dehydration.
Measure – After a few days she’ll eat more foods. She still prefers bananas and fish sticks, but is broadening her palette.
*Note, your test measures will be what works best for you!
Give it a good week or two (or longer depending on what it is) before you tweak your method. Kids will test you and when they realise you are not going to be manipulated, they’ll capitulate. I don’t mean be a dictator in your home, but in areas where you know what is best and they are fighting you foolishly, do not give in. If you are consistent and they know you mean business they’ll eventually fall into line.
So, Weigh, Test + Measure is the name of the game. Please feel free to share your own examples of strategies you’ve used for things. I am always open to learning!