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Avoidance: Prevention or a Behavior Bandaid

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

As parents, we want to keep our children happy and free of stress. We don't like to see our children uncomfortable or unhappy. We also want to prevent certain behaviors. We don't like seeing our children cry, scream, meltdown (especially in public). We want to avoid the embarrassment of the stares, whispers and silent comments.

What do we do as parents? We try to avoid putting our children and ourselves in those situations. Sometimes drastically. For example, we stop going to the grocery store or we buy something to appease the child. We may keep every item in the home in the exact same place. We extend time limits for bed, TV, the phone, etc. OR relinquish them. If going out to eat, reservations are made in advance or the dinner order is made ahead of time to prevent waiting.

How much and for how long can we keep modifying the environment to prevent our children from having an embarrassing behavior? Are we solving a problem or is it a temporary "bandaid" that will get bigger and more difficult to keep in place as time goes by. What is the child learning? How to adapt or to threaten with the possibility of an embarrassing behavior to get what they want?

I know it is different for every child, family and situation. However, it is possible to teach our children how to adapt to certain situations and to express distress in a more socially acceptable or appropriate way. It's also possible to find appropriate solutions to situational problems.

With a gradual approach and consideration of each child's skill level, they can learn to adapt. It just takes time, patience and hard work for both child and family.

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