Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Contemplating Being a Parent and a Behavior Analyst Part 1.

About a month ago, I was in Phoenix attending the Association for Behavior Analysis International Convention. As always, it was fantastic. Usually I spend 1 or 2 days attending symposia focusing on current research in the fields in which I work the most: children, developmental disabilities, autism. Then I spend a day or two attending symposia that are interesting to me in other ways. A couple of my favorite "outside of MY box" events were entitled, "Behavioral Assessment for Covert Behavior Problems", "Behavior Therapies with Juvenile Offenders: Fire, Sex, and Violence" (Let's face it, some good information was presented... and the irreverance with which much of the information was provided was certainly entertaining.), and "Expanding the Scope of ABA: Diagnosing and Treating Children with Psychological Disorders and Emotional Behaviors".

I have spent some time over the last couple of days pondering the afore mentioned presentation and really what it means to be a parent AND a behavior analyst. As a behavior analyst, I tend to want to view the entire world in a very analytic way. I like to think there is a way to solve any problem; that solving problems and teaching new skills is about using science and creativity together; and that every facet of my life can be viewed and lived most comfortably from this/my point of view. As a parent, well, I am absolutely in love with my two children. They are happy and creative and unpredictable and strong and smart and perfect. They are perfect. And yet, as a parent, I often find the need to teach appropriate behaviors or to correct inappropriate behaviors (part of my responsibilities). And I find that I don't always parent up to my expectations. I don't always teach everything I want to, the way I want to, when I want to... I find myself wanting to "be proud" of them and actually caring about what other people think of them (and by extension, me). I hate that. I consider myself a highly trained, professional behavior analyst AND a parent with very little training at all. In trying to blend both of my worlds, the "behavior analyst" and "loving, emotional parent" I know there must be a perfect balance. I know other behavior analysts who do this flawlessly. The seams that merge the two are invisible. I, however, seem to need constant reminders of who I am. I have to be quite effortful for both sides to exist or unite.

I listened to Jeannie Golden present this year (again) on childhood trauma and attachment issues. Of course, she seemed to blend all facets of her behavior analytical background and personality perfectly as she parented her daughter. I'm not sure if it was because she is one of the first behavior analysts I've heard speak as a "parent" or even if she is an "excellent" behavior analyst. However, I found myself wanting to be just like her! After the presentation I spoke with her briefly to ask her one question:
"Did you take data while targeting specific behaviors with your child?"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Karma Checks... Have you seen these?

Hello! My sister had some of these the other day and I thought they were great! Here's some info:


Contained in the familiar pleather checkbook holder, Karma Checks consists of two separate booklets–one for Good Karma and one for Bad Karma. The checks are preprinted with messages that apply to common daily scenarios. Good Karma Checks are intended for acknowledging positive moments (receiving an unsolicited favor, being served by a waiter who doesn't rush the table, having an excellent conversation with a stranger), while Bad Karma Checks are for admonishing bad behavior (talking loudly on a cell phone in a public place, chatting during a movie, stealing a parking spot). Fun to fill out and eminently practical, the Good Karma Checks are perfect for leaving on a recipient's desk or tucking into a thank-you note. If you aren't feeling bold enough to actually issue a Bad Karma Check, at least you'll have the satisfaction of glaring at the perpetrator as you privately write one out!

60 pages, 6 3/8 x 3 5/8 inches

I know that they may not be the most "effective" means of reinforcing someone's behavior. However, I think they look like a fun way to provide feedback immediately after a desired behavior occurs! It's a cute way to catch someone being good! My older sister and her daughter were visiting my younger brother and his soon-to-be-wife. They are neighbors. Dianne, my niece, really wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but they were out of bread at her house. My brother shared some bread with her and Dianne enjoyed her sandwich. Here's a quote from the Karma Check that was given to reinforce their "good behavior".

"Nice sharing! If this were kindergarten, you'd definitely get a gold star. Alas, this is not kindergarten - This is, what, 23rd grade? In any event, your stellar display of sharing did not go unnoticed. And let's be honest- sharing, at any age, is not such an easy thing to do. You done good, child."