Motor Planning

Wish I Had More Hands, But At Least My Ticket's In My Pocket!

Zipping and unzipping suitcases and backpacks.

Stuffing things into suitcases and backpacks.

Holding awkwardly shaped things.

All are challenges that need practice to improve.

It is called motor planning.

Often comes with facial expressions of concentration.

Oh, how to use those fingers and hands as he wrestles with what he wants to do!

Mom shouldn’t help, other than show patience and offer some prompts

(starting with hand-over-hand and always moving toward less).

Here is motor planning practice in his beloved and highly-motivating world of taekwondo.

And you never know when another tool will pop up:

John has recently started talking about his ticket from school.

By now, a well-worn little chunk of paper.

First time ever he has talked about any reward system from school.

So, I ask his teacher what the story is.

It’s a school-wide reward system, recognizing students who demonstrate various aspects of character.

And John earned one.

It goes in and out of his zipper pocket, a treasured possession.

And even that is improving motor planning, right?

So, keep your eyes open for any and all efforts your child makes on doing things with his hands and fingers.

It’s all free therapy.,

Peace be with us,


The Need For Speed

Aware Of The Joy Of Winning

Ever hear of the Pinewood Derby?   It’s famous in the world of Scouts.

Each child gets a chunk of wood, four wheels and some goofy little axle pins.

Not too many rules:  just a maximum racing weight limit.

Other than that, Scouts can do pretty much anything they want in design.

This year, John has been paying more attention.

He decorated his car with a marker.

His name and a smiley face.

Apparently enough to win “Unique Design”.

Everyone wins something, right?

And his car came in #2, overall, among about 20 Scouts.

This caused great clamor among his peers, lots of cheering and lots of heats (times they run the cars).

You can see here an elaborate track.

When they announced his name as overall #2 winner, John let out a whoop and ran toward the announcer.

Quite joyous.  Quite aware.

Self-aware of his buddies happy and shouting for him.

Self-aware that his little car had done well.

Aware.  Alive.  In this world with us.

What we parents urgently seek:  our kids being aware.

So, keep putting your child in situations where self-awareness can grow.

And it may.  Don’t give up.

Peace be with us,



Get A Grip

Thumb is One, Says Piano Teacher

How to get him to hold a pencil the right way?

John’s extensive team is still trying to help him learn this oh-so-elusive skill.

So, as John would say, “How about this?”

Thus, we have blended piano fingering with occupational therapy with academic skills.

So, to standardize:

Thumb is 1.

Index Finger is 2.

Middle Finger is 3.

Ring Finger is 4.

Pinky is 5.

With the very faintest of prompts, I am to help John put 1 in the 1 hole.

The rest he has to figure out.

And no one says anything.

Eventually, the written number 1 will be purged from the grip.

And John finally grips a pencil in a 3-finger tripod grip.

Like the other kids.

And you know the secret, right?

Practice.  Practice.  Practice.

Try this with your kids?

Peace be with us,

And thanks, Alma Liotta!




And Then He Was Gone.

Mom Outsmarts Herself

On Christmas day,  I let John have a very long leash:  Walking the dog.

But I forgot something hugely important.

I forgot my words.

And so, I ended up seeking help from a 911 dispatcher (she was very kind) and seven (7) deputies in a local search.

It started when Mom handed John the leash with a dog attached, and said to take Spike for a walk.

It was a beautiful day, and he needed a brain re-boot from too much holiday TV.

I watched them meander down the street and turn right, out of sight.

I then realized I hadn’t actually said out-loud to come back at the stop sign.

(Also John didn’t say, “Mom, there is a secret path I know of, and I am coming home that way.”)

John has become an excellent boomerang, and so I waited a few moments.

Still nothing back in sight.

So I tried to catch up with them.

In my pajamas and bare feet.

And failed.

In a very visible-to-the-neighborhood way.

About ten minutes later, I decided I needed professional help.

My bellowing, my questioning of everyone I met, my searching up and down the streets hadn’t found them.

I came back to the house to use the toilet and check in with my teenager.

Still with the dispatcher on the phone.

I opened the door, and found John and Spike back safely at home.

John was playing on the Nintendo, like any other day.

So what did I learn?   That there was a secret path in the neighborhood I didn’t know about.

And now I do.

My teenager had taught John how to make a lap with Spike and how to come back home that way.

And that is what he had done.

Like a big boy.

Like a neuro-typical approach to a chore.

Seems I was was the only one who didn’t know of the secret path.

We thanked all the professionals for their rapid response.

Then we walked the same circuit together, with John and Spike as leaders.

Again, what did I learn?

Say things out loud.  Get a plan for meeting up, if we are going to allow for an independent journey.

(I do this when we part for public bathrooms or shopping in the store.  I just forgot that day with the dog.)

The sheriff who stopped by the house suggested a wristwatch tracking device or sending a cell phone with him.

All good ideas to check into.

And we shall continue to practice with this walking-the-dog-independence, with all the risks it brings.

Peace be with us,



Jumping Drills, Jumping Jacks, Jumping Anything

Ways To Build A Critically Important Two-Footed Launch

Call it cognitive overload.

Call it dendrite building.

The drill is to jump as far as you can, like a kangaroo.

Then do it again.

Until you get to the end.

Turn around and do it back.


Ah yes, jumping.

Here is John trying to be a kangaroo, in a taekwondo warmup exercise.

Jumping jacks or high-knees running in place are equally challenging (and entertaining to watch).

A good 2-footed launch.

Like a 2-year old has.

Except John was easily 6 before he could get both feet off the ground together.

And back then we had to practice a long time, jumping on a large white exercise ball, to gain the underlying skills.

We also embedded social engagement, expressive speech, and shameless use of a preferred stim.

This is how Rosemary taught me, and how you can do it at home with your child:

Wedge with your knee a big exercise ball into a corner.

Like a small domed wobbly trampoline.

Tell your child to climb up on top, only supported (barely) by your two index fingers

(stick out only your index finger on each hand and let him hold on).

Make him count 20 good jumps, launching from both feet simultaneously.

At the same time, he counts each jump out loud, while you look each other in the eyes.


After 20, he gets to do one thing he loves (like open a cabinet door).

After another 20, he gets to close that door.

Eventually your child will build the muscles, the dendrites and the confidence to take both feet off the ground at the same time.

Because now they know where their body is and where the floor is.

Jumping, in all its forms, builds many forms of body confidence.

It also naturally shifts the child forward into fine motor and oral motor skills.

So, try this at home with your kids?

You will be helping them move forward in their learning.

At a very reasonable cost.

Peace be with us,



Body Back, Body Front. Body Down, Body Up.

Helping a Child To Swing and Steer a Nintendo

Alma, John’s occupational therapist, explained it this way:

John’s ability to pump himself while swinging needs some help.

So use new words about the body, not just the feet kicking.

Forget “Pump your feet, John!”    Didn’t work.

Instead, try, “Body Back” (to go forward), “Body Front” (to go backward).

or “Body Down” (to go forward), “Body Up” (to go backward).

Whole-body, physical-moving leaning and learning, using new words to overcome inertia.

Try this with your child who keeps asking you to push them on the swing.

Also, I have noticed John is now leaning his body to keep Mario and Luigi on the road.

Steering to the left

Turning Left

John has figured out how to use our old Nintendo DS (the original handheld).

Not the Sports Wii while standing up.

Instead, when he is sitting.

This skill has been a long time in coming.

And I have not been able to help him, because I don’t understand the machine controls.

Besides, it is best that he (with peer modeling) figured it out by himself, right?

John is now full body into the road maneuvering, with those glazed-over eyeballs.

I don’t mind that he’s super-absorbed into the game, because that’s what other kids do, right?

That is the major litmus test I use.

If other (neuro-typical) kids do it, he gets to do it.

Most of the time.

And I am surely going to count all this physical movement as therapy.

Steering to the right

Turning Right

So, see if these ideas help your child?

Peace be with us,



“What Are You Doing?!”

Extrinsic Incentives

incentive4 incentive3Sometimes removing something beloved works wonders for John.

This type of motivation is extrinsic, from the outside.

Not as stellar as intrinsic (motivation from within—even when no one is looking).incentive1

So, sadly, when all else fails, when my kind, repeated, verbal requests are ignored,

I pick up the Wii remote and click it.


Done with requests, threats, words.

When the protests rise:  “What are you doing?!” (said by John with either a smirk or fake indignation),

he then hears, “you can earn it back.  Next time.”

(Something short like that.)

He knows he is manipulating me, and won’t respect me or my words if I fail to give him what he expects.

He now expects me to keep my word.

I have heard moms say, “I love you too much to argue with you.”incentive

Same concept here.

Another top beloved thing John can lose:  the taped-on taekwondo stripes on his belt.

Like the one you see here in the photo that used to be such a stripe.

His instructor, Ms. Coleman, awesome black belt mom that she is, has said if it becomes necessary, then rip it off the belt.

No words of  bargaining or re-negotiation.




Then, a quick re-direct back to business, whatever that is.

Try this with your kids?   It is utterly golden at our home.

Peace be with us,


The Power of Distal Phalangeals

Fingertip DIP Joints, And Why We Must Keep Moving

Today Alma, one of John’s occupational therapists (OTRs), was explaining why John’s fingertips don’t work.

It isn’t his fault or his choice.   It’s the brain/nerve system (neurology) unique wiring that he was born with.

His is lax, loose, and stretched out.

Compared to typical.

And to use those fingertips, to continue to build and keep strength in all those joints,

John must continue the movements we learn in therapies and in life.

Because if his growing muscle strength diminshes, so will his fine motor ability.

Here is a photo of his fingertips.

He had to work harder to get this configuration than I do.

John’s joints (all of them) are more stretched out.

All the time.

And so, he has to work far harder than I do to make his fingertips work.

To hold a pencil.  Zip a zipper.  Button a button.  Play a piano.

Anything fine motor.

And he will always have to work harder than typical.

But he can.

If he wants to, right?

And for the rest of his life.

Try this with your kids, and be aware?

Peace be with us,



Piano Dexterity

Spider Fingers


Can your child move his fingers individually?

As in playing one piano key at a time, with hand placement like this photo.

John couldn’t.

So, we have been playing spider fingers.

Trying to get those rigidly straight little non-jointed fingers to realize they can actually bend.

As for motivation, I can just say, “Mom is going to win!”, and try to move in.

John hates that.

Glad he is developing a sense of friendly competition.

So then it’s time to advance to both hands.

One silent, listening.

The other hand doing the talking.

One note at a time.

You see here Ms. Melanie, Music on the Go, providing wrist support.

Then the support fades.

We practice quiet body, quiet hands.

The proper walk-up-and-sit-down approach,

the proper positions of everything,

the proper patience and self restraint.

Secret weapon:  Someone says, “Mom is going to win!”

and then I take over the keyboard.

Oh, John hates that, with a happy face.

Five minutes a day practice.

We are making progress.

Perhaps your child can learn the keys and play music with fading supports.

The prettiest noises you will be hearing.

So, try this at your house?

Peace be with us,



Natural Consequences—Not Mom’s Agenda

Packing Your Own Suitcase

I re-learn every day that I can’t make anyone do anything they aren’t motivated to do.

Never mind whatever vision of success I had in mind for them.

If they want something, they will make the effort.

Or they won’t.2016-11-02-18-29-09

I can help provide the opportunity to earn that feeling of accomplishment.

And then, they have to do for themselves.

His effort must come before his success.

Or he won’t respect his success and accomplishment.

It won’t be dear to him.

So, I asked John what did he want……

……in his suitcase?

(You realize any activity could be inserted here, right?)

I flopped the suitcase open on the floor, and asked him to put in the stuff he wanted.

He gets to haul that suitcase on, off, in and out when he travels.

The suitcase is just a silly example of a powerful concept:

A huge component of John’s successful launch into independence will be when he feels the natural consequences of each decision.

Tough love.

So very hard for parents who love so dearly.

John gains nothing when I hand everything to him.

I would then be robbing him of any reason to do anything.

So try this with your child, and you may see a great pride in accomplishment.

When he is ready to try.

Or it won’t happen yet.

And I must wait until he is ready to try.

It can’t be my agenda.

Peace be with us,


“I’m Gonna Win!”

A Little Friendly Competition Really Works

2016-11-10-19-50-06Getting out of the house on time on school mornings has recently become so very much easier.

Because John wants to win.

I just yell, “I’m gonna win!”, and walk out the door to the car.

Keep in mind, this is a DEFCON-5 intervention.

For those mornings when nothing else works, and Mom is about to make a bad choice.

I get my stuff into the car, sit and calm down.

So far, depending on the morning, I have backed up, driven around the circle cul de sac, and (even) pulled back up into the driveway.

I watch to see him running toward me, some form of emotion on his face.

(Only the second time was sad and worried.  The first time, he didn’t believe me.   Now it has evolved into a laughing game, so not sure who is out-smarting who….)

I say something like, “where were you?”, “oh, I missed you!”, and “I forgot you!”.

With either a sad or happy face.

And please remember:  we had to work up to this level of freedom.gonna-win

When we are (finally) ready, I get out of the car and lock the front door.

And we are gone.

Next thing is to teach him how to close and lock the front door.

I use this process of “I’m gonna win!”  also with piano lessons and any other time my pile of re-directs fail to get “fast” going.

Another thing:  we practice “fast”.   A lot.  Sometimes successfully.

Perhaps this can work at your home?

Peace be with us,



I Lost My Kid

And It's In The Dark of Halloween

lost-dark-halloweenSome kids are runners.   John was more a wanderer.

Once, our neighbors found him several streets away.

So, for years we have practiced skills to help John become a boomerang.

He might go somewhere (independence) and still could find his way back.

So, the other night, we were Trick-or-Treating with little friends in a nearby subdivision.

In the dark.

Mom wasn’t wearing any of her glasses.

And she was distracted taking a video on her camera.

John was roving from house to house with several of his peers.

I blinked, and lost him.

I stayed calm enough, knowing that if there was anywhere in the unfamiliar dark to get lost,

it would be in that area with those friends.

I wandered around, asking.

About 30 minutes later, I found them.

On the front porch of the house where I had lost them.

Perfectly logical:  they had gone inside the boy’s house.

And that’s where I had lost the trail, because I was distracted and all turned around in the dark.

John didn’t act the least bit worried or even glad to see Mom.

I am sure he was loving the independence, never giving me a thought.

So what did I learn?

  1.  I should have discussed a plan with him in case we got separated.
  2. He has good instincts to stay with friends.
  3. Wear my glasses in the dark.

He was exactly where he should have been.

At the last place we were together with his peers.

Mom was messed up, not John.

Maybe this might help in your world.

Peace be with us,






When Birthday Presents Are Too Much

Stretching Kid Engagement

birthday-presents So, we made it through John’s 10th birthday party.

First time in his life that he wanted to blow out the candles at the party.

We had 27+ children at our local Main Event for bowling, pizza, cookie cake and arcade madness.

And then there was the pile of gifts.

One month later, these gifts are still sitting on the table, yet to be opened.

So, I could put them still unopened under the Christmas tree, like previous years.

Or we could have a post-party party.

Have the kids over to the house, to help John open and then play with whatever is there.

So we did.

And the funny thing is, the kids had so much fun in the front yard, the back yard, upstairs, downstairs, swimming and eatingbirthday-presents1

that nobody wanted to stop what they were engaged with, to open his presents.

So, maybe this idea may work for your gift-resistant child.

Invite everyone back for further-connection play.

Maybe the gifts will still end up under the tree.

(Epilogue:  it took a second post-party party to finally get them all opened.   Fun, no matter how you look at it.)

Peace be with us,



Sacred Things: Blue Stripe and Ralphie

"I Hope You Earn It"

Blue StripeJohn has two sacred things these days.

The first is the blue stripe on the taekwondo belt he earns by great behavior choices.

The blue stripe that is lost (ripped off like a bandaid by Mom) for poor behavior choices.

There are other colors of stripes earned, but blue is very special.

Here is the corpse of such a blue stripe, no longer on John’s belt.

It is an intervention of last resort, and hard to earn back.

The second sacred thing is a movie (A Christmas Story),

but he sort of socially stims on the “Daddy is going to kill Ralphie” part, blurting it out in public out of context.

After too many warnings, I hid the movie.

Months later, I found it and brought it out of time-out.

2016-07-18 21.48.48

Eyes of a hawk, John spotted it like the opiate it is, and begged for the movie again.

I said OK, after his list was done.

And then, suddenly, it was past bedtime on a school night.

I said, “turn it off now or I will hide it again.”

Wow.  It worked.

My favorite re-direct when John is nagging (perseverating) about something he wants:

I say, “Earn it”.

Short and sweet works quite well under this roof.

Maybe something here may help you.

Peace be with us,



Swallowing On Purpose, Part 2

Bigger, More, Diversity and Practice

swallow-2First, a bit about capsule sizes:  #5 is the smallest, working up through #00, then on to horse-sized.

If he can swallow these vitamins and nutritional supplements instead of Mom mushing everything up sugar-laden juice cocktails, then I will get more sleep.

Oops, I mean . . . . . . . John will grow in independence.

And travel will become far less stressful and more  normal.

Whatever normal is.

Also, some of what John needs to swallow tastes wretched; I know because I taste everything myself.

So I re-package it inside tasteless capsules.

I have mentioned the help of Rosemary Slade, OTR, and daily practice.

John has grown in skill: moving through #5’s, #3’s and round uncoated tablets (slightly smaller than an M&M)

The oval tablets I cut in half.swallow-more

Because John has started resisting the “sugar-laden juice cocktail” with all the stuff in it.

Thus causing an exhausting power-struggle.

Now John has grown into swallowing a pile like this (second photo) twice daily, with water in a cup with a straw.

Hardly any juice, less power struggle.

And increased oral motor skills and swallowing ability.

And this morning, I added two (far bigger) #0 capsules.  

John said “too big!”

I said “try, you are a big boy!”

And then they were gone.

Try this with your kids?

Peace be with us,


Building Banter Via Drive-Throughs

Creative Compromise, Longer Tethers of Independence

2016-06-30 18.04.53-2John wanted Burger King (they have paper towels in their bathrooms).

I wanted McDonald’s (they have chocolate dip cones).

So we were bantering back and forth in the car.

I was using every variation of voice, tone, pitch and silliness I could think of.

John was mirroring these that back, and creating some of his own.

Huge grin on his face.

Finally, John offered a creative solution.

“First Burger King, then McDonald’s.”

(Like he’s never heard, “first this, then that” ever before in his life!)

His solution just popped out of his mouth, and I hadn’t thought of it.

(To be honest, this was not the first time we have gone through more than one drive-through to appease everyone.)

I had to say “OK!”

And I didn’t get out of the car at Burger King.

I pulled up close to the door, and like we often do to stretch his independence,

John went in solo, and came out solo.

Big boy, intrinsic motivation stuff.

So maybe this might give you some ideas to try.

Peace be with us,


Take Kids on Errands

Stretching the Social Teachable Moment

2016-09-23-15-35-51-1See that pink paper in John’s friend’s hand?

That’s the birthday cookie cakes receipt.

I could have picked up the bakery goods myself.

Instead, I chose to wait until I had a car full of boys.

It took only 15 minutes to run the errand, which turned into a grocery story ice cream party when we coincidentally met other families running errands also.

A rich social experience followed, which would never  have occurred if I had been an efficient mom, doing errands when solo.

And then, the only place in the car to put the two birthday pans was in the back, on top of that flexible cover that pulls out like a window shade.

And there they stayed for hours, sliding around while we did other stuff.

Not so pretty anymore, but the kids didn’t care the next day.

Perfection is for adults.

So, think of ways to include your kids in errands.2016-09-23-21-32-35-1

They learn how to do things.

Also, I emotionally connected the kids to a big part of the next day.

They got the cakes from the counter out to my car.

Gaining skin in the game.  The cake game.

And these same kids were the ones who ate the cakes the following day at John’s birthday party.

Twenty-seven (27) kids for bowling, pizza, cookie cake and arcade chaos.

More opportunities for emotional bonding.

Liquid gold to John.

Maybe this can work in your world.

Peace be with us,




Your List Or My List?

DEFCON 5 - "You Have Lost Your Freedom"

My frustration was growing.  John was making decisions that kept me his prisoner, not allowing me to do my mom work.

No intervention I was trying was working.

Your List or My List

And I was getting mad (never a good thing).

Then I remembered something that had worked in the past:  Take him with me when I do my work.

So my To Do list became his list.

John went with me:  doing laundry, dishes, clearing the table, readying for tomorrow, etc.

He hated it.

He begged for HIS list.

He begged for early bed-time.Your List My List2

Who wants to do mom-work?

I told him if he got out of bed, he got to help me more.

He didn’t.

I wish I could say that John never tested me again on this.

Several days later, we were going somewhere fun for him, and all he had left to do was read for 30 minutes.

He stalls on the reading, right?Your List My List3

I eventually realized I wanted him to do what he wouldn’t do, so he could go have fun.

And causing myself great stress about it.

He had no intrinsic motivation.

He didn’t care, but I cared for the loss of social time with other kids.

Once I stopped trying to please him, I got my peace back.

I had been co-dependent.

We started with the dishes, wiping off the table and counters, moved on to paperwork, mail and laundry.

When John ran away from me to another room, I told him he would have to earn me not holding his hand like a little baby.

Each time John ran away (of course he is going to test my boundaries), I retrieved him by the hand.

We went on the the next thing.

Slowly, relaxed, without any intervention agenda or renegotiation.

Just getting my mom work done.

The sheer boredom drove him nuts.

I would say “my list or yours?”, “how do you like my list?”, “when you do your list, then I can do my list.”

And we worked in the sinister 30 minutes of reading.

And then I put him to bed.

My disappointment wasn’t the issue, and I tried to remember that.

He made the choice.

I wonder when he will try testing me on this again.

When he does, I must love him enough to hold my ground.

He’s only going to get bigger and older.

So, maybe this can help at your home.

Peace be with us,


Swallowing On Purpose

Pills Down The Hatch (that means the "food tube")

Swallow2 Swallow5What we call bio-medical (bio-med) usually involves nutritional supplements.

These seldom taste yummy.

Lucky if they are liquids, crystals, capsules or some form that dissolves easily. Other options are tablets you have to crush.

Many of us have played with this alchemy for years.

I have been known to add flavorings just to get the kid to drink the stuff in the cup.

I have shoved little chewable tablets into his Juice Plus gummy drops.

And then as time has gone by, encouraged him to stick three in his mouth at one time.

Working on that oral defensiveness : )

Another trick I have found after years of practicing is to just plop the tablets into a smidge of water in the cup, letting the cup sit overnight in the fridge.

By morning, most tablets are mushy enough to stir and then slurp up a straw.

Oh, but, swallowing on purpose little hard pills?

For John with his oral defensiveness:  Never.  Never.

So we got some basics from Rosemary Slade, an expert in feeding issues.

Making John know this swallowing thing was going to happen, like it or not.

Here are some photos of things we tried with Rosemary.Swallow8

And we added it to John’s daily list.

“Swallow three pills” every day.

If it didn’t go down the first time, we kept at it.  He would try to spit it out or gag.

I said, “try again”, and he pulled another mouthful of water from the straw.Swallow6

Using a straw works far better than an open cup for us.

Maybe something about momentum and suction.

Some times it takes several attempts, and as practice will do, he is getting good at it.

And quite proud of himself.Swallow1

The trick is getting it on the list.  Doing it.  Every day.

(Later, some time has gone by, and yet John was able to swallow a round little Colace.  We are still working on our toileting, and that is a story for another day.)

He remembered how to swallow pills.

We also practiced closing the ziploc baggie, which is more 2-handed, crossing mid-line, fine-motor difficult than you would think.

Maybe these ideas can help your world.

Peace be with us,



Each Moment I Interact With My Child,

Where Do I Start From?

In our workshops, we talk about finding half-and-half balance in doing all we can for our kids versus accepting them as they are; and how easily that can get out-of-whack.

Slide1 HeartBut recently, something happened and I had to re-think this.

So, here goes:

At the beginning of each interaction with John, where am I standing?

Do I begin on the line, a foot on both sides, waiting for something to happen?

Am I outside looking in, getting ready (for what?), or on the Intervene Now half, with a bias?

I was forced to look at John’s reactions to my re-directs, and I was in the wrong half.

I am trying my very best to begin each time we interact standing in the “I accept you as you are” side.

Like “innocent until proven guilty”.

To back off.

To give him more rope and more peace.

For this isn’t an hourly, daily or weekly decision.

It is a second-by-second, constant state of choice, and I must be very self-aware.

If Mom is an intervention, nagging buzz-kill, then where is the joy in his decisions?




Restaurant Circus Tricks and The Napkin Dance

My Kid Had Me Over A Barrel And It Wasn't Pretty

Napkin Dance5 Napkin Dance One vacation morning this summer, John whipped out his worst restaurant manners in a long time.

I re-directed him (using the least prompting I could muster) to Napkin Dance 2order his own food, ask for his own straw, help with check-out procedures, and to curtail the rowdy napkin tricks.

(Later I asked him to re-create the napkin dance for you, and here’s three photos of what we got.)

How hard can it be to just stick a napkin under a leg until you need it?  And why does it always include the topic of wieners?

We opted for a big-boy flat plate, not the bowl that is easier to corral the food.

He got up and ran around with the dang napkin, doing what I called the napkin dance.

And finally, at the end of our “performance”,  he had the natural consequence of sitting quietly for four whole minutes, earning the right to ask to be excused.

He did it.   So now I know he can do it again.Computer Time3

Peace be with us,




Stand Still!

20160709_215402 (1)John was all movement, and not near the physical space I needed him to be.

Suddenly, I found my foot on his, like in this photo.

Like “Gotcha!”

It worked.   And I didn’t waste worthless words.

(This foot-on-foot didn’t seem to make him rebel, like he does when I grab him.  John is not intrinsically motivated when Mom grabs him.  Just saying.)

Another variation of temporary captivity (yet another opportunity for John to practice emotional self-regulation) works well for us when teaching John how to brush his teeth.

You see this photo of me sitting on the counter and John facing the mirror.

I ask him if he can see his teeth.  (If he can’t, then I can’t.)

I guide him by his chin.

I wrap my legs around his trunk, so he isn’t going anywhere.2016-07-13 21.40.09

I let go when it’s time to spit.

Want to try this your kids?

Our kids who are still learning to love dental hygiene.

Peace be with us,


Come Out When You Are Ready

Yet Another Use For a Bathroom

If I were going to give John every opportunity to exercise his own decision-making,

to cultivate his intrinsic motivationCome Out

(when he is motivated from within himself, not because I bribe or coerce him),

how might that look (for example, on vacation)?

How about this:  him on the inside, me on the outside.

And I say, “Come out when you are ready.”

It worked.

And, funny thing, it has started a habit now for him that he elects a time-out,

a time to self-calm.

In the bathroom.

And he is now locking the door.

Good or bad, most of our biggest adventures involve bathrooms.

Maybe this will be useful to you.

Peace be with us.




How Long Do They Last?

The rainbow I saw recently lasted 13 minutes.   I stood there and timed it.


I know others in the local area saw the rainbow also.  Their posts shared unique thoughts about what the rainbow meant to them.

When we have a rainbow moment with our kids, what does that mean for you?

How long does your rainbow last?

My rainbow moment (with John here at taekwondo) lasted 15 seconds.  The joy of a child who is in the flow.

Don’t listen when fear or discouragement says “no!”

John says “no!” all the time.

It doesn’t matter.

Rainbow 20 secs Taekwondo1

I validate his feelings, and we wait a moment.

Then we do it anyway.

He has a deep neural pathway of saying “no!” that we are un-learning and re-learning.

Try this with your child?

Peace be with us,



And Picasso Looked Like "Pizza"

museum2 museum1museum3museum7
museum9museum8museum10The Fine Arts Museum, huh? Something Mom chose selfishly instead of the Kids Museum.

So, I was happy with the self-indulgent adventure.

But John wasn’t.  And I made things worse by making him pay attention to the paintings.museum4

In the classics, he counted the beards. museum12  In the modern art section, I pointed to different paintings and asked him what he saw.

At one Kandinsky, he said “1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 eyes”.  And a Picasso looked like “pizza” (as colorful as it was, I would have added “veggie”).

John also described some paintings as women, green hat, trees, brown, yellow, and so on.

At one of a river, he started singing “Row Row Row Your Boat”.

To help him with “quiet body” and “hands off the exhibits”, I made John carry two books and/or keep his hands in his pockets.

I let him be leader as much as possible.

He seemed drawn to the white marble nudes—so maybe a little sex education thrown in for free.

(We haven’t done much of “the talk” yet but when we do, we use proper terms.  His gazes tell me he is increasingly aware.)

We made it fine and dandy through the ever-changing lighted tunnel museum11many times (with and without other people), the cafe and his first-ever panini-style grilled cheese.

We made adventures of all the museum5escalators, even going up backwards while holding his books for motor-planning fun.

I even got lucky with a little bonus cuddling while we read together in the cafe.

Guess he was tired.

Please don’t feel alone if you fear taking your child into such a place.  It may work out just great.

If not this time, then the next time.

Peace be with us,


The “I Would Never Drive Away and Leave You in the Store” Game

So Let's Keep This Learning Tether Growing Longer

John was horsing around in the bathroom.

I was ready to leave, done with shopping.

So, I asked an employee walking by if he would please tell John to come out.Never Leave You Store Game

He went into the Gents and said instead, “John, your mom has left the store and is driving away”.

I was standing right there, and didn’t correct his bad joke.

I truly thought nothing of it.

I waited for a while, paid the cashier, and waited some more.

Eventually, another employee of the store asked if he could help me.

I said I was still waiting on my young son, blue shirt, in the bathroom.

“But I saw him run out of the store” came out of his mouth.

Guess you know what I did next, right?

I found John safely by our car, far out in the parking lot.


We have since talked many times about how I would never leave him in a store.

About being “lost”, and where he should wait for me.

He knows how proud I am of him deciding what to do.

How scared I was.

How happy I was he was safe.

So many lessons to learn, and to share with you to discuss with your kids.

So you can practice, and be prepared for something similar.

And so to extend the teachable moment, the next time in the grocery store, we played a new game.

The “OK, go to the bathroom, and then find Mom wherever she is in the store” game.

And it worked great.

So, from fear to a ever-longer tether, right?

Maybe trying this, in tiny steps forward, might work with your family?

We play this game every time we are in a store.

Peace be with us,



(Clip art courtesy of PowerPoint Clip Art Library)

Shopping Cart Return

How far away can he go?

ShoppingCart1ShoppingCartJohn wanted to return the empty shopping cart to the right place.

It had been a very good shopping adventure.  John had driven well.

He had helped load it all onto the conveyor belt, and helped load stuff into the car.

As good as it gets.

But now he wanted to take the empty back.


But he didn’t go the the closest clump (the thin white circle).

Nor to the next closest cluster (the thin white oval).

He kept going.  I have no idea what his selection criteria was.

I just kept praying for all those parking lot angels to kick in.

He eventually trotted back, fine and dandy.

A tether extended.  Risk rewarded.

And most importantly:  Practice.

Try this with your kids?

Peace be with us,