Tag Archives: changing behaviors

Getting Caught with Your Zipper Down…

My son wears his jackets zipped all the way up to the top. Always. And it’s uncomfortable for him to wear a button down shirt—opened—over a T-shirt. I could never figure it out. And he was never open to my suggestions of doing differently.

ImageThen a psychologist who works with adolescents and young adults on the spectrum recently explained that it’s a common behavior of kids with ASDs.

I decided to broach the topic again, using a system I developed for talking to my son when I want to get him to consider changing a behavior.

Step 1:  Set the Mood    I don’t know about you, but I’m much more reasonable when my stomach is full, my surroundings are familiar and the tone is safe and positive. So I ask him to sit down with me for 10 minutes [or less] to relax—and I dish up a yummy snack for both of us.

Step 2:  Acknowledge    Lovingly state the obvious. Hey, I notice that you enjoy wearing your hoodies zipped all the way up—whether it’s cold or not. It must feel right to you.

Step 3:  Wait for Response         

Step 4:  Suggest              Regardless of his response, I again acknowledge it and then move on to a suggestion. Lots of people wear their hoodies zipped about ¾ of the way up. You might want to give that a try. It’s a cool look.

Step 5:  Wait for Response

Step 6:  Conclude             Wrap it up, be calm. Let me know how that goes for you.

About a week after our ‘talk’ I overheard him say to his dad, “Notice how I’m wearing my jacket now? I only zip it this far.” Good thing I let my husband in on what I was doing. Otherwise I know he’d be scratching his head!    Image

I honestly think he wasn’t aware of the options available to him. He’s rather black and white about things. Either the jacket is on and zipped completely, or it’s off. There’s nothing in between. But we’re gradually introducing gray to his color palette. And we do it with love and without judgment.

Pick Your Battles

For some reason, when my son cooks fish or chicken fingers, he uses the potholder to flip them. I don’t know why he’s averse to using utensils. I tried and tried various ways to remind him and change him, but it didn’t work. It’s very frustrating to open the potholder drawer and find them covered with crumbs. After months and months of trying and failing to change his behavior, last week I gave up the fight. From now on, I told him, he has to clean off the potholder before returning it to the drawer. When I see him clean it, he’ll get bonus points toward rewards.

Results? No more crummy potholders! I’ve actually watched him take the time to walk to the sink to brush off the crumbs before returning the potholder to the drawer. Aha!

Moral to this lesson:  If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Also, flexibility on mom’s part is always a good thing.


It’s important to know when to be flexible. That goes for us as well as for our kids.