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Top 2023 Questions From Our Listeners

By: Behaviorally Speaking

Woman by window listening to behavioral health podcast on smartphone

About this Podcast Episode

On this episode, Angela and Kristin dive into several questions submitted from their listeners. They answer parents’ questions around creating structure at home, differences in behavior at school vs. with parents, bed wetting, motivation to make friends, teen hygiene, and more.

About the Hosts

Angela Nelson, Ed.D., BCBA, and Kristin Bandi, MA, BCBA, are Board Certified Behavior Analysts with expertise on human behavior and child development. They spend their days working with parents and caregivers of both typically developing children as well as children with learning, social, and behavioral challenges, or developmental disabilities. This podcast is brought to you by RethinkCare

If you need support as a parent or caregiver of a child, we encourage you to ask your Human Resources team if RethinkCare is a part of your employer-provided benefits. RethinkCare reaches millions of lives globally through partnerships with top organizations and Fortune 1,000 companies.


Welcome to episode 42 of Behaviorally Speaking, a podcast featuring board certified behavior analysts Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi. On this episode, they answer questions submitted by listeners like you! And now, here are your hosts, Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi.  

Angela Nelson: Hello and welcome to our forty second episode of Behaviorally Speaking I’m one of your hosts Angela Nelson Board certified behavior analyst and mother of two.  

Kristin Bandi: And I’m Kristen Bandi also a board-certified behavior analyst and mother of three. Hey Angie, what’s up. How’s it going?  

Angie: Hey, we were just talking about the new puppy that my family got which is like 

Kristin: Baby Everest? 

Angie: Yes baby Everest it’s like having ah another actual human baby. It’s yeah he wakes up maybe every 2 hours or so it’s it’s been a challenge.  

Kristin: Oh, I forgot about that. 

Angie:. Yeah.  

Kristin: I actually because I was saying like well you know it’s not ours wasn’t so bad but you’re right I forgot about that and we had, we got our puppy before we had kids and so like I wasn’t used to the night wakings oh I forgot about that. 

Angie: Mmmhmm. 

Kristin: After you have babies, you’re like oh okay yeah that’s like a thing but when you have a puppy and you’re not used to it. And then the other thing too was like the really early wakings I remember I was like five o’clock what is this? But then you know of course after having kids. It’s like you’re super desensitized to that. But is he up at like you know? 

Angie: Yeah, yep, he is up very early. He’s so cute.  

Kristin: Aww. 

Angie: But yeah, but we’re you know we’ll get. We’ll get the hang of it. Yeah so.  

Kristin: Yeah, are your kids like so excited are they like playing with them constantly like trying to train him and teach them all the tricks.  

Angie: Yeah, they are. Yeah, he they trained him how to do his sits and stay and so yeah, it’s 

Kristin: Oh, that’s good.  

Angie: All in all, it’s going. Well, it’s just a lot.  

Kristin: It is a lot that’s the nice thing about having bigger kids though I think right because like a lot of times people will get puppies when they still have little kids and then you can’t even shift any of the responsibility onto the children. So, it was smart for you guys to wait a little bit until they were older. But yeah.  

Angie: Right? Yeah, they’ve got yeah, they’ve got their chores already related to baby Everest  

Kristin: Yeah, aww cute.  

Angie: So anyways well let’s get into it. This is going to be a unique podcasts we haven’t done any episodes like this this is going to be what we what we’re calling our grab bag episode where we got emails from our listeners and so we’ve kind of taken an amalgam of questions and kind of sorted through and looked at the ones that came in the most from our letter writers. So, ah yeah, we’ve compiled some really good ones, some big hits and some answers for you today and we’re excited to dive into these.  

Kristin: Yeah so, we tried to add and add in some variety where we could. 

Kristin: This first one I was looking at this earlier and this first one just makes me giggle because I feel like my husband could write this one sometimes when he comes into the kitchen during dinner.  

Question 1: My House Is Always Chaotic; How Can I Regain Control?

Kristin: But so, the first question written in is my house is always chaotic and it’s hard to keep some sort of structure. What am I doing wrong and how can I regain some control? 

Angie: yes, I think sometimes this is related to maybe the number of people in your house if you have pets  

Kristin: Um, oh yeah.  

Angie: So, there are different factors. But yeah, absolutely we see this quite a bit I think it also kind of depends on personality type a little bit, right? Some people are a lot more bothered by chaos and clutter and things like that than others. 

Kristin: Yeah, that’s a good point.  

Angie: Others are a little bit more just kind of like you know go with the flow. But um, I think all in all when we were reading this this question we talked about a couple things, so structure is really important right? So, if you are somebody that’s feeling like gosh my environment is chaotic or with all that you know people and beings in my house things are just you know it’s hard. There’s really no structure. Um, we want to kind of rein that in right and think about how can we create some structure and a couple ways to consider that and to kind of integrate that into your environment are setting expectations right?  

Set Expectations

Angie: So, setting expectations around bedtime rules chores just making sure that people know what they’re supposed to be doing right? If people are ah, you’ve got kids or inviting their friends over after school and all these things, it’s probably time to say hey not the expectations. Are you guys come home have a snack you do your homework first we don’t need you know 10 kids running around at 3:30 in the afternoon right? We need to you know create some clear expectations have a routine.  

Use Visual Supports

Angie: Also, some families will use visual supports. Um, you know some will just have a list they’ll use a dry erase board or a calendar and ah you know some families will even go a little bit more high tech and they’ll have some sort of sheet that they can share on the computer especially if you have older kids of what the routine is yeah so having some sort of visuals to help 

Kristin: Yeah.  

Integrate Consequences

Angie: And then integrating some consequences, right? So, if we don’t all participate in the family household management or we’re not following through with expectations and we’re kind of adding to the chaos then you know that maybe there are consequences. Maybe um, we’re going to have to spend Saturday doing our tours because we didn’t get them done during the week or you know whatever it is but just consequences kind of go along with structure go along with routines, expectations, so those things are all very much intertwined.  

Coordinate Schedules With Neighbors

Kristin: Yeah, it’s interesting two of the things you mentioned I think came up this week on my calls with parents. And one being this parent actually came up with a pretty good strategy. Um, where you had mentioned you know everybody in the in the neighborhood wanting to come over and play and all this stuff and so the mom actually was able to coordinate with the neighbors which of course this is not always going to be the case but this mom in particular was able to coordinate with the neighbors and say okay we’re going to have like playdays Wednesday and Friday, um, the other days like we just can’t do that because my daughter’s not getting our schoolwork done and so on and so that actually worked out really nicely for them.  

Angie: Yeah. 

Kristin: I thought that was really cool.  

Angie: Oh yeah that’s good I got to tell my friend that, my friend is a teacher at the school and so all the neighborhood kids know her. They’re always going to her house and she’s like oh my, it’s, I think it’s gonna be great when they’re teenagers right? Because they have a safe environment they know where their kids are. But yeah, maybe she can integrate some sort of you know schedule with the neighbors.  

Start With Small/Easiest Guidelines Then Work up to Big

Kristin: Yes, yeah definitely. Um, and then one other thing I’d probably add to this one is a lot of times parents they’ll come up with a really good idea like you said right? Let’s get some structure going and then they start too big so they’re not able to follow through with it. So, my advice is pick one thing and I usually tell parents either pick the one that’s the easiest for you in order. Ah you know to get things kind of you know more regulated or pick the one that is the most chaotic for you but big personality, right? So, if it’s like the evening routine the after-school routine for example somewhere within there if that’s the one we’re like okay this is where there’s no structure, It’s really chaotic. That’s where we added in, and I can’t even make this up but this morning I would add a call with a parent Who we were going exactly through this with her. She has three girls after school routine and what we said was let’s have them write out their routine. They can decorate it like they can make it really cool and then at the end of that Let’s put some sort of reward, right? So, what could they get at the end of the day similar to what you said earlier? What can they get if they just get all these things done and just really make this crystal clear. 

Angie: Yeah that’s nice definitely helps to keep the chaos down nice. 

Kristin: Um, yeah exactly.  

Angie: All right cool. Well so obviously that’s in a not an exhaustive list but hopefully a couple things just to help you kind of manage the chaos. We know it’s hard with kids.  

Question 2: Why Are My Kids Better Behaved at School Than at Home?

Angie: But let’s move on to the next one, this one came up from quite a few families actually um, so this question here is my kids are so much better behaved at school than at home with me what’s going on? 

Kristin: Yeah, and this one kind of feels so closely related to the first 1 right? So, it’s like a potentially one if those kids that the kids in the first question or are just doing really well in school.  

School Has More Structure

Kristin: Ah yeah, you’re right this one we hear a lot like this one comes up quite a bit and 1 of the one of the answers I usually give to parents for this one is you know schools they’re really predictable right? They’ve got debate even depending on the age. You’ve got visual supports showing you. Okay this is the time that you’re going here or if you’re even older you’ve got like a printed-out schedule, and everything is just predictable and structured and then when you get home potentially that might not be the case and so kids just kind of let loose.  

Angie: Right? Yeah, 100% percent yeah speaking of getting home. So that’s kind of the other side of this too, right? They have the structure they schools are very consistent predictable and they’re also they’re coming home  

Home Is a SafePlace for Them to Let Out Feelings

Angie: Um, I was just listening to a podcast this the same podcast I’ve been telling you about that I really like Dr. Lisa Damour, Ask Lisa the psychology of parenting love that podcast. She was talking about kind of talking to two sides of your teen for example, right? There is a teen that’s maybe frustrated but then there’s the team that the teen that’s maybe hurting right? And so, um, you know looking at like if let’s say they yell at their sibling or something they might be frustrated about something else and it’s kind of manifesting in this sibling, right? So, I’m thinking about you know the side of your teen that is trying so hard to keep it all together in public or in school. And they’re feeling stressed. They’re feeling pressure and then they get home and it’s their safe space so they kind of just let it out right? And that’s maybe where they’re giving an attitude or fighting with siblings just being you know um, kind of your interactions are more challenging. This can be hard as they start to get older as well.  

Kristin: Yeah. 

Angie: So I really like how Dr. Demore was saying like talk to that side of your child talk to that side where the side that they’re tired and they’ve just been trying to keep it together and that might help you to better understand that it’s not but they’re trying intentionally to be bad with you at home but oftentimes it’s just that they’ve they’re expending so much energy trying to do the right thing and follow all the rules and you know use their manners and follow the strict routines and then they get home and it’s just like they have to kind of let it out so we see that a lot.  

Kristin: Yeah, and I think also with this I think sometimes kids along with like you’re trying to keep it together. But I think part of it too is they get so overstimulated at school, right? So, my kids have told me but so you know my young my middle child is in kindergarten and after the first like week and a half of school she came home, and she was like what is this cafeteria thing. It is so loud  

Angie: I know! 

Kristin: And I was like I know, and she had never experienced that before and so she the first couple weeks of kindergarten when she came home. She was a terror, and you know I kind of being in the field I’m in I understood it I knew it and I did kind of lead with empathy like you said but it’s interesting too I mean that’s definitely a part of it right? Like kids can get overstimulated and then they get home and then they’re just like Wow and they just kind of let it all go. So yeah, I think that’s a really good point and I was also going to mention that this makes me think about our last episode that we did on teens and how one of the tips we gave was like don’t take it personally right? So of course, you’re going to get frustrated when your kid says like I hate you. You’re the worst right? Like yes you can get frustrated there. But I think the bigger thing here is to understand well what is actually going on, right? So why are they? You know lashing out at home. There’s got to be another reason, so I think that’s a good call out right.  

Understand That Kids and Teenagers Get Stressed Too

Angie: Absolutely yeah, it’s not that they’re a bad kid, right? It’s there’s something going on and come from a place of curiosity I will say of course I Imagine you’re going to agree with me here like keep you know consistent rules, right? If they break the rules they’re being disrespectful. They’re yelling at their screen, they’re doing, you know, maybe they’re even you know getting physical with their siblings. You have to still be consistent. But you said, like you said, lead with empathy. You know understand that they believe it or not kids and teens they have a lot of stress too. So be curious about maybe what is going on under the hood.  

Kristin: Yeah, I was just thinking I’m gonna sidebar for a second, but you will appreciate this, so I was just thinking. We, so my daughter she as I said she’s five, right? So, she, she’s like getting over the hump of the tantrums but they still happen every now and then and we still see them like around dinner time and last night I’m not even kidding like she had one um, and I was telling my husband about like you know how to lead with empathy when she’s having a fit and I was like you can say like I know you’re frustrated and you know here’s what you can do you frustrate when you’re frustrated and it was just so funny because he was like he said something like um, let me try it or something like that and it’s funny because he tried like saying like I know you’re really frustrated right now and she kind of just like looked at him like “Who?” You know and I just was thinking about that’s why I was laughing because I was like it’s so funny, I feel like sometimes as a parent if you change your behavior then she like snapped right out of it too. She was like oh, ah huh? 

Angie: She’s curious about Dad. 

Kristin: Yeah so, I just I just laughed because it was so related but I because it’s so it’s appropriate to keep like yeah to keep your rules and your boundaries. But I think sometimes thinking about how am I reacting when these things are happening too can be huge can be huge.  

Question 3: If My Child Has ADHD How Can They Concentrate on Certain Things Such as Video Games?

Angie: Yeah absolutely. So yeah, okay well the next one here this one. Um, this one comes in a lot I will say I’ve heard this on parent calls and quite a few people ask this so I don’t think my kid has ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) like the doctor said because he can focus on video games for hours. Can you explain this?  

Educate Yourself on What ADHD Is and Isn’t 

Angie: Yes, this is a good one. We do hear this quite a bit so for families that are maybe nodding with this one I think it’s really important to gather more education for yourself around ADHD, right? There are we know that some kids can actually really focus very intently on certain things that kind of spur their motivation or they’re really interested in just certain things that maybe they’re very good at and they can really go and deep and be very into it. So just because your child is really focused on 1 area not focused on the other you know you don’t want to make the ah make some assumptions right? So, I think it’s really important to understand what ADHD is. We’re actually creating a bunch of new content to dive really deeply into ADHD because it is a big group of ah families that we work with um, but also you know the CDC, American Academy Of Pediatrics they have really great sites that kind of go into what ADHD is so yeah I think the first thing is just you know provide more education around what it is and maybe dispel some myths or miscommunication around what it is and what it isn’t.  

Kristin: Yeah, exactly and I think the term you know that comes up a lot is they can hyper focus, right? So hyperfocus essentially means yeah this is I can zone in on what interests me and I can spend hours doing that and sometimes this is a good thing Sometimes it’s not a good thing for kids you know it’s a good thing if they can hyper focus on that science project because they really want to get it done and they did really well because they’re motivated by it and they love science right? But it’s maybe not such a good thing if they’re hyper focused on video games when they should be doing their science project or you know they kind of laser focus and they forget oh no I didn’t eat lunch today or I forgot you know I’m not taking care of myself because I’m just zoned in on something. We hear about this a lot too. Ah with kids who um, who kind of focus in on their grades right? So, we could see sometimes kids will not give themselves any grace if they get like a little bit below an a right because they’re so focused on that grade, and I get I think that could be detrimental too. So yeah, I definitely think getting more information and understanding the ADHD brain a little bit better could be helpful so like you said we’re not jumping to conclusions. So I know we’ve mentioned these two sites but I put in here you know we’ve got a couple sites that we reference often and they do a really good job explaining this so one being if you’ve listened to our podcast for the last several years you know we’ve referenced them quite a bit but their site’s really great because you can type in anything you’re looking for and then they’re going to give you all different sets all different kinds of resources and tools so that one’s good to get some more information and then also ADDitude. It’s attitude magazine but you can look up their site and it’s add like A-D-D itude. So, like think of attitude but that’s how it’s spelled, and they do a really good job too. Just like breaking these concepts down a little bit further for people.  

Angie: Yeah, that’s great I’m a big fan of you know education like training and education. But it definitely helps to kind of better understand your child if they get that diagnosis. Okay let’s learn all about it. Let’s learn ways to help them reach their top, you know top potential. So yeah.  

Kristin: Um, right? Yep exactly.  

Question 4: When Should I Be Concerned if My Child Is Still Wetting the Bed?

Angie: So, let’s get into the next one this we’re in a segue and go into a different direction now. This letter writer says my kid is eight and is still wetting the bed should I be concerned?  

Get Medical Guidance

Kristin: Yeah, good question. So, the first thing we want to do, I always say right with this, is well we have to check with the doctor right? So, first thing let’s get some medical guidance. Let’s see what they have to say, and most medical professionals are going to say we’re not concerned until 10 that’s usually what we hear ah because it’s not concerning until then, but it might not be medically concerning but it still could be concerning to parents right? So, I feel like potentially this writer is saying should you know and they’re not doing it yet should I be concerned for other reasons too and I think one of my mind kind of goes to other social implications right? So, if your family chooses to do sleepovers right? If you’ve got family coming in town. Your the cousins are coming to visit right and potentially your child is not still wetting is still wetting the bed right? They’re all sharing a room. There could certainly be some your child could be worried about that and therefore as a parent you’re worried right? So yeah I definitely think there certainly get medical guidance first. But then looking into some other things.  

Be Aware if the Bed Wetting Is Only Recently Happening

Angie: Yeah, absolutely I think it depends too If it’s been a consistent thing that’s different right? But if they’re suddenly starting to wet the bed that’s something else right? There could be severe stress. There could be trauma there could be you know a UTI there.  

Kristin: Yeah, that’s a good call out. 

Angie: There’s a lot of different things and not necessarily you know severe things, right? Like so yeah, I think definitely talk with your doctor first and they’re going to ask you probably like is this an ongoing thing or did this just start because that’s really going to drive kind of this future steps of how you would address it?  

Keep Track of Liquids Before Bed 

Angie: Um, also to you know some of the stuff’s regulated by your body or hormones, right? And some doctors will even prescribe medication and so on a lot of kids are just really deep sleepers and most of the time they do grow out of it at some point.  

Kristin: Right. 

Angie: In terms of things to do though home things to consider right? Make sure that you’re keeping track of liquids before bed you want to limit liquids. We don’t want our kids to get dehydrated. Of course, if you’re worried about that make sure that they’re drinking plenty early in the day. Maybe after dinner there’s no more liquids, right? 

Purchase a Mattress Protector Cover

Angie: Protect the bed. Um, I mean our whole everybody in our family we like I just for some reason get so hot at night and I’m like sweating right? I want to protect our mattresses. So, all the beds in our house have a mattress pad or a mattress cover just a waterproof and when the kids transition from cribs to their twin beds, they had you know mattress pads those are great right? You can keep a nice clean mattress. So, make sure that you’ve got and they’re pretty cheap. 

Involve Them in Changing the Bed Sheets

Angie: Um, have them help change the sheets too, right? And this is not a kind of a punishment sort of thing. This is just the kind of getting in the process of being Involved in this right? So, they’re helping to kind of be a part of this process clean the sheets and put them in the laundry and so on. 

Don’t Shame Them

Angie: It’s also really important not to shame your child so they and I would say the vast majority of the cases. They cannot control this right? They’re either in a deep sleep or something happened, or you know there could be a variety of different reasons but be really careful. Not to shame them. That’s really easy especially when they start getting older but to your point Kristen too like there might be some social implications. What if somebody finds out that’s that could be devastating if that gets around you know the upper grades right? So, the last thing you want to do is shame your child that can’t that’s not something that they’re doing on purpose.  

Track When Bed Wetting Happens to Spot Patterns

Angie: Um, and then take data on when it happens if you’re noticing that it’s only happening on certain days of the week maybe it’s just on the weekend. Well maybe they’re staying up late and they’re watching movies and they’re drinking. You know a little bit later and having snacks and salty popcorn or something like that right? So just keep track of what’s happening.  

Use a Bed Wetting Alarm 

Angie: They also have bed wetting alarms. So as soon as the alarm kind of senses some moisture. It’ll go off and it can help your child kind of rouse from their deep sleep and go you know finish in the toilet.  

Address Trauma or Stress That Could Be Causing Bed Wetting 

Angie: And then you know addressing like I said before if there’s any emotional trauma or anything else that may have happened kind of severe stress. Um, this is usually the case if you just start to see it happen. You know all of a sudden. There may be something that happened so you want to you know make sure that you’re kind of being curious and especially if you don’t if you’re not aware of something you know be curious asking your child and see if you can kind of get to the root cause of the bed wetting.  

If Using Night Diapers, Try Not Using to See if There Is a Change 

Kristin: Yeah, that’s a good one and I was just thinking something that’s related to this is I’ll often get parents asked me. You know my child is still wearing the night diaper because they are wetting the bed and then I guess a follow up question is well should we just remove that and just kind of do all the things that you just said right? And I will say I actually had a case of a family I was working with and the daughter we did this right? So, we were like you know what, let’s just remove it and see what happens let’s set her up for success like all the things you mentioned, and it turns out that we actually rewind first. We did a little bit of an assessment to see like was she the mom would go in. We wanted to check in the middle of the night like is she going in the middle of the night or is she going in the morning, and it turns out that she was going in the morning, so it was a little bit easier for us to make some behavioral changes here. So, then the mom in the morning would immediately say okay go to the bathroom, right? And then so she could do that. But then once we had some success there then we just removed it and she did great. So, you know I feel like obviously this is a case-by-case scenario in your child and getting to understand you know what would be best here, but I think sometimes to your point of well have them help you change the sheets I think allows them to kind of take some ownership right? Like this is something I’m working on and that’s okay and so I think that’s a really good message to send.  

Angie: Yeah, I had a couple similar cases to that. Actually, they you know? of course I totally understand the parent’s perspective. They wanted to protect the mattress and stuff, so they just had those overnight diapers, and they were just. Hanging on to those and we just that we just tried to eliminate them, and they weren’t having accidents anymore you know and so the parents were flabbergasted so there’s also I mean this is such an individualized ah situation.  

Kristin: Yeah totally.  

Angie: But there are a lot of things that you can do um, to kind of move forward. So yeah, I don’t know maybe we even do a podcast on ah like potty training and bed wetting and things like that 

Kristin: Yeah 

Angie: Because you know we’ve done it in work and also as parents.  

Kristin: That would be a really good one, I don’t think we’ve done that actually. 

Angie: Yeah, okay I’ll make a note.  

Kristin: Add that to our list. 

Angie: Perfect. Okay well we’ve got a couple more.  

Question 5: How Much Should I Motivate My Child to Make Friends?

Angie: So, the next one being it seems like my child isn’t motivated to make friends. How much should I push her? so this is a good one yeah this is a good one. Definitely a good one. So, I think folks that have listened to be here really speaking for a while won’t be surprised by this to this kind of kickoff statement which is let’s start assessing the why um, why do we think or maybe even asking our child right? Why do we think that they’re not quote unquote motivated, that’s kind of an interesting word too, right? Is that that they’re not motivated? Is there something else going on? Maybe they are motivated-  

Kristin: But they don’t know how?  

Angie: Right? 

Kristin: Yeah, I kind of read this one a few ways.  

Assess the Child’s Personality, Temperament, Friend-Making Skill Set

Angie: Yes, exactly So I would almost kind of question the word motivated. It’s more kind of like what’s the objective statement here like my child isn’t making friends that’s kind of what it is right? Like we just don’t know the motivation level, so we assess is there teasing going on. Are there some sort of temperament or personality things like maybe they’re more shy you know or to your point. Maybe they don’t know how they don’t have the skill set. Maybe ask them if they’re more comfortable in a 1 on 1 setting or in a group and maybe you can facilitate that right? Like maybe it’s just overwhelming when you go to the park. You probably have heard this too I’ve talked to a lot of parents that say I don’t know they just they didn’t make any friends when they went to the park and it’s like well you know there’s a lot of kids. It’s kind of chaotic, that’s not necessarily how people make their best friends. You know maybe some kids are very outgoing and they just can very easily integrate into an ongoing play situation. That’s just so impressive when kids can do that. But that’s not how all kids are so maybe they’re better and ah they feel more comfortable in a 1 on 1 setting and so maybe we can facilitate a 1 on 1 play date at the park or at somebody’s house. So yeah so, I would say start with the assessment. What’s going on here?  

Compare Expectations of Yourself and Child of When to Make Friends 

Kristin: Um, yeah and you mentioned something that’s really important I think a big piece to this is so kind of going back to like they didn’t make any friends at the playground, right? Like well how long were they at the playground did they see these same kids time after time after time because that’s a conversation I have with parents all the time so they go to summer camp and it’s like they’re only there for one week but they didn’t have make any besties and it’s like well I mean they were only there for a week and there were 65 kids there So you know the opportunity sure there’s a lot of opportunity to make friends. But you know maybe they made a lot of acquaintances. But I think that it’s so along with doing the assessment I think parents can take you know kind of take a look at what is their expectation right? So, ah what do you? What do you think you kind of define socialization or how do you socialize as a parent? So, what are your expectations for your child and then are they in line with your child right? So, I think there’s a lot to be done there. And maybe level setting those expectations a little bit.  

Angie: Yeah, oh that’s such a good, ah it’s such a good point like if you’re super social and you’re expecting your child to act the same way. They might just inherently be you know different their own person.  

Kristin: Ah yeah, I’ve actually had this case a few times where parents have said to me like I’m so extroverted and my husband’s so outgoing too and, but my kids are really quiet and reserved and I wonder why? But then I say you know sometimes I think like well maybe they’re quiet in comparison to how you guys are but maybe not quiet compared to their peers right? So, I think that I think it’s really important as a parent to think about your own behavior and maybe the other side of that too. If you’re naturally more introverted right and you naturally have just one good friend or you know your 2 best friends and you’re not the one out there kind of you know talking to everybody. Well then, you’re also modeling that for your kids so there’s that side of it as well  

Angie: Yeah, love it.  

Help Build Your Child’s the Friend-Making Skill Set

Kristin: Tackling a little bit of the skill deficit or building the skills to make friends right? So thinking about ways to teach your child to actually make friends I have this conversation a lot with families and I say sometimes for kids we have to be very clear on how to make a friend and even how do you kind of scan the room at your first day of second grade and say I wonder who I’d be friends with here. You heard a kid over there talking about cars you like cars. Maybe you guys have things in common, but kids don’t just naturally know how to do that so sometimes we have to help them facilitate like ooh this person might be interested in what I’m interested in and how do we get there.  

Angie: Yeah, especially because we do have a lot of families that have kids that are navigating various social challenges or developmental disabilities and so time is you know I think that the modeling and the more of the explicit teaching step by step is needed in those cases.  

Compare Expectations of Yourself and Child of When to Make Friends

Kristin: Um, yeah and then I think finally on this I’d probably say creating the opportunity to make friends right? So just giving as much opportunity as you can, and I feel like 1 of the challenges here and this this writer might be saying is you know they don’t want to be in it. They don’t want to, right? Maybe they’re saying like they don’t want to play soccer. They don’t want to do baseball. They don’t want to do ah you know those clubs, but I think finding what motivates your child and then putting them in that right? So, if they’re really motivated by Legos which my son is They don’t want to be in it. They don’t want to, right? Maybe they’re saying like they don’t want to play soccer. They don’t want to do baseball. They don’t want to do, you know those clubs, but I think finding what motivates your child and then putting them in that, right? So, if they’re really motivated by Legos, which my son is, I’m going to get him in the Lego camp right? Because maybe he’s going to make some friends there because they have similar interests. 

Angie: Right? Yeah, absolutely That’s a good point doesn’t have to be a team sport per se  

Kristin: Um, great. Oh yeah um.  

Angie: Could be like okay or could be swimming right? That’s a little bit more of an individual thing. But when you go to your class, or you know go to your camp, there are other kids that have similar interests and then it might be a little easier to make connections.  

Kristin: Right? Yeah.  

Question 6: What Should I Do if My Teenager Isn’t Passionate About Anything

Angie: All right I think we’ve got two more to do so this one we’re to switch gears in talk about teen land for a minute it says I can’t find anything that my teenager is passionate about they don’t seem, oh there’s that word again, motivated they don’t seem motivated to do anything. What should I do? I can’t tell you how many times I hear this one. Um.  

Keep Track of What They Are Doing With Their Time

Kristin: Well, my first thought is what is anything right? So, they’re not motivated to do anything and I would usually again like you’d said right? Like maybe we need to do a mini assessment here if they’re not doing the things that potentially this writer wants them to be doing or thinks they should be doing well what are they doing right? So, what are they doing instead and oftentimes there’s something that they’re doing but there and I guess it goes back to you know what kind of makes them feel like they’re important or makes them feel like they’re you know they have some skin in the game right?  

Get Buy-in From Your Teen on What You Would Like Them to Involved in

Kristin: So I think that’s a big takeaway for teens and we talked about it last time so get a buy-in and you know helping them have some autonomy here so writing down like what are the things I would love for my team to be doing write those things down and then we have to say okay well how are we going to find some motivation for them to do those things. And just kind of coming together to help that align.  

Angie: Um, yeah absolutely this we, at tomorrow  

Kristin: Oh yes that’s right. 

Angie: Um, one of our colleagues and I are yeah hosting a webinar on teens, and we do you know dive a little bit more deeply into these foundational concepts like autonomy and values and self-esteem and things like that. So, these things all come into play. Um, I think what you said I’m going to piggyback off of that helping them find opportunities to you know discover something that they really enjoy if it truly is a motivation thing  

Kristin: Right.  

Angie: Then yeah, I mean most people are motivated by something and to our earlier point too It may just not necessarily be something that you like to do or that you that you want for them, right? But You know as parents we can help them discover new things give them opportunities create exposure to new activities and so you know sports or if they’re not sporty. It’s maybe, it’s art, maybe it’s building something, or you know um, doing something with their hands. Whatever it is, have a conversation do that assessment. 

Create Monthly Goals

Angie: Um, maybe even help them create some goals for the month you know that align to their values. You know how maybe you want to try to work on you know getting healthier right? So, let’s create some goals for yourself on how many times you’re going to go for a walk or go for a swim or you know whatever it is um, but thinking about their values. Their kind of core motivation what they like to do and helping them explore that.  

Kristin: Yeah, so important and I feel like yeah you nailed it in trying to figure out like how do we? How do we help them create their goals right? Like I think that’s kind of the big one and I do have a I have a family I was working with, and she had a medical condition. The daughter teenager has a medical condition and she has to exercise just to keep things kind of regulated for herself and this was a big sticking point for this parent because like she could not get her daughter to do it and we had to find the motivation and it turns out that she liked like this this and so we said they could she just like do some moves to this artist’s music could that count for like movement and exercise she had like get her heart rate going every day. And that worked I mean she was she was like oh she loves it. You know so I think it’s kind of sometimes you have to think outside the box. What’s going to get them going and in terms of if that you know exercise were that one then that’s a good example of that right?  

Angie: Yeah, absolutely get their buy in too, right?  

Kristin: Oh yeah you got to get their buy in.  

Angie: Your version of like they the kid have you might want to go do like an aerobics class, right?  

Kristin: Ah, right? Like excuse me?  

Angie: And they’re kind of like I want to go skate can I Skateboard instead. Sure, yeah do it.  

Kristin: Yeah, exactly yeah that’s good.  

Question 7: How Can I Get My Teenager to Have Healthy Hygiene? 

Kristin: Okay well we’ve got one more so this one ah sticking with the teenagers. So, my 16-year-old has terrible hygiene. When I push it, he seems like he resists even more. How can I get him to understand it’s important? Oh boy.  

Angie: Yes, this is this is tricky but it’s common. It’s interesting because we have some families where they yeah, they say oh they could care less and then other families. It’s you know the kids are hyper focused on the deodorant and the cologne.  

Kristin: Um, yeah that’s true. That’s a good point. Yeah.  

Angie: It’s very interesting I believe there’s some so there’s definitely some social pressure and dynamics here. But um, this really comes down to motivation, information and then like I said social right? Social pressure. 

Kristin: Yep.  

Assess Their Hygiene Knowledge and Get Help From Others They Can Relate to More 

Angie: So, kind of getting at what is their motivation. Um, if they don’t you know they don’t seem motivated to do it right? That might be where we dive in to see what is their information level. It was interesting I think I shared with you when my daughter, um, last year in fourth grade. They started the kind of human growth and development series. They show the boy with a boy, at least in California they should the boy and the girls videos together and they put a lot of emphasis not just on kind of the physical like the puberty part but they also talked about taking care of your body so washing your face putting on deodorant making sure that you’re taking a shower making sure you’re brushing your teeth keeping like caring for yourself right? Which I was, I was so glad but to see that. So maybe you do need to dive in a little bit to information now a 16-year-old may not want to have an ah information meeting about hygiene with their mother. Let’s say whatever but you can get creative. Maybe it’s an older cool cousin or somebody else that maybe they can relate to them a little bit more and just kind of talk about okay this is what happens when we go through you know this time of life. We need to put on deodorants right. Um, so making sure that they’ve got at the education around it. 

Use Possible Social Pressures as a Motivation 

Angie: And then social pressure as well is definitely a factor because naturally if you are let’s say playing lots of basketball, meaning you may not be aware of it. But if you’re not wearing deodorant that will certainly have some implications for how others interact with you or not interact with you. So, if they are motivated by social that is something you can kind of integrate in there, right? Like you know we want to show up for school and you know we want to be polite and not be um, subjecting our friends to you know body odor and things like that. So yeah, those are just a couple things to think about when it comes to hygiene.  

Kristin: Right. Yeah, I think it’s so important to give them the why and that’s exactly what you’re saying, right? Because we talked about this with teens that if they’re like what’s in it. You know they’re thinking what’s in it for me, right? And they’re not they’re not naturally understanding the social consequences because. You’re right some kids even at the stage don’t care and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that from parents they’re like okay you know he’s 15 now he’s 16 now I thought it would kick in right like he would care about that person in in the classroom that’s kind of you know given him the eye right and that doesn’t always kick in so I think it’s really important to give the information then. 

Help Them Understand Consequences of Poor Hygiene 

Kristin: And even helping kids see the end result of not brushing their teeth for example, right? So like if you brush your teeth for the next four years like what do you think is going to happen or I’ve had this one a lot with teens and washing their face and I even have a mom who went so far as to show her daughter a picture of like acne scars and said hey like if you don’t wash your face and you do get pimples and you don’t take care of it like here’s the end result right? This could happen. And it’s not meant to scare them. It’s just meant to give them information just like you’re saying so I think that’s really important  

Start With Small Expectations for Changing Hygiene Habits 

Kristin: And then one other one other thing I would add here is let’s start small right? So, if our expectation I usually tell parents like think for a moment and think about what’s my end goal If I had a perfect you know my if my 16-year-old had perfect hygiene. What would that look like right? So, we’re gonna paint that picture and then we’re gonna say Kate now go back like you know come back like two hundred yards from that right? And we’re not there so you know let’s now let’s go to where we are and let’s think about let’s just get one little bit better. So, if your child is let’s say showering once every two weeks could we say twice every two weeks, right? Like could we get ourselves a little closer to the end goal I think that that could be could definitely be a win there.  

Set Reminders for Hygiene Tasks 

Kristin: Yeah, and then finally what we talked about before, but I think with teens you know they don’t want to feel like they’re being nagged right? So, I actually I had a similar conversation this morning. Maybe using some sort of technology to set the reminder, right? So, it could be, you could set your Alexa or something that says like time to shower you know or don’t forget to brush your teeth. So, the nagging part could come from the device your teen could set it up and then maybe we praise when it happens right? So, oh you hey oh yeah you smell so good right? You’ve got a shower, you’re looking good today, you’re looking fresh, right? In one of the cool terms, you might use with your teen. You’re looking fly today, right? That’s not cool anymore.  

Angie: Oh, I think we’re showing our age there Kristen. Oh yeah no I love that, like taking the putting the responsibility on them taking the onus you know using technology. 

Have Teenagers Keep Spare Hygiene Products With Them

Angie: I was also just thinking a very simple kind of environmental little switch could be maybe you remind them hey okay just stick your deodorant in your backpack, right? 

Kristin: Oh yeah, yeah.  

Angie: Like if you don’t if it’s not that big of a deal. But then if someone makes maybe a mean comment um, they’ve got their deodorant right there they might be more inclined to put it on or we work with so many kids that are you know struggling with their executive functioning kind of their organization maybe forgetfulness, right? So, if they just have a spare stick of deodorant or a little mini travel toothbrush and toothpaste that happens, I’m sure we’ve all especially when we’re younger oh my gosh I forgot to brush my teeth right? So, it’s there and I don’t know that social component really is quite powerful for a lot of kids and if someone makes comment no problem pop into the bathroom take care of business and you’re and you’re good to go. So, um, yeah that might be another little simple thing that you can do to kind of help them prepare.  

Kristin: Yeah, I love that that’s such a good idea I could envision it like my little my hygiene kit, right? And then you just kind of pack it all. You got a little cute little case you put it in and then you keep it in your backpack. So smart. 

Angie: Yeah, all right I think that’s all we got for today.  

Kristin: Yeah, that’s it. Yeah, well thanks for all the questions, I’m sure we’ll do this again. This was really cool, and we got a mixed bag of questions that was pretty great. So yeah, I’m sure we’ll do it again. But thanks for joining us on our 42 episode of Behaviorally Speaking. Our next episode We’ll be talking about executive function until then don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast on your favorite platform, so you never miss an episode.  

You’ve been listening to Behaviorally Speaking, with Angela Nelson and Kristin Bandi, brought to you by RethinkCare. Find out more at You can find past podcast episodes under the Resources tab. We also invite you to subscribe, follow, like, and leave us feedback wherever you listen to podcasts. Your feedback helps us prepare topics and content for future episodes. Until next time, have a great day. 

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