[If you have yet to read parts ONE and TWO (earlier this week), please do so before proceeding.]
A vignette: Sunday morning I was making breakfast for Ricki, and darted into the living room to do something. To my surprise and horror, Ricki was standing nearly naked next to our big open window, getting dressed. And, unfortunately, this was not the first time I had caught her doing this. I had previously “told her off” about such behavior, talked about modesty, etc., apparently to no avail.
My first impulse was to yell at her, but up to now that hadn’t really worked, had it? My “first-aid”, “band-aid” reaction was to quickly change the balance of benefits/ harm of her behavior, with an explicit threat of exact consequences to any continued parading around the house in unclad state. She beat a hasty retreat to the bathroom.
However, if I want to make a permanent change, that is not enough. If I only have threats in my arsenal, what will prevent her from repeating this behavior, when I am not home?
There are basically three steps that need to be done: Evaluate, Plan and carry out intervention, and reevaluate.
Step one: Evaluate!
The first thing I need to do is evaluate the offending behavior. For ingrained, long-term activities, this may take a few days. You want to know:
-when it occurs
-with whom (Do only you have this problem with your child? Does the child behave this way in school? With husband/siblings/ grandparents?)
- any pre-disposing conditions ? Is the child hungry/tired?
-What is your usual reaction, and how does the child relate to that?
“Voyurism in the window” evaluation
Predisposing conditions: hot weather, not yet received Concerta may make her more eager to “start up” with Mom
Step 2 : Plan
So how can I change this behavior? I can arrive at ideas by looking at my evaluation list, and trying to reinforce GOOD behavior.
1. First and foremost, I have to be careful to not give Ricki extra attention for the behavior. Any rebukes, etc. must be done in a low-key way: Quietly with no fanfare.
2. Talk to Ricki this afternoon about how that now that she is a big girl in seminary, she needs to be more careful about tsnius (modesty). Talk about the inherent dangers, the responsibility that she has. Mention that you realize that it is hot to get dressed in the bathroom, and suggest that she wear a robe to her room, and get dressed there in front of a fan.
3. Go with her to buy a nice terrycloth robe
4. Promise her a prize (specify!) if she gets dressed during the next week modestly (elaborate)
5. Try and go to her door and say how proud you are of her (attention!) at least once while she is dressing in the room.
Step 3: Reevaluate
Within a week, see how things are going.Am I doing what I planned to do? What6 are the results? If the behavior persists, threaten (and carry out) consequences. Also consider giving the Concerta earlier.If all of this fails, evaluate again and try and make a different plan.
Hopefully, by targeting both the harm done by the behavior (and making her aware of that), and by decreasing her “gains” from the behavior, a change can be effected. I wrote this plan out on Sunday. I hope to report to you next week if it succeeded.