• Robin Williams, MS, BCBA

Better Love with Boundaries - 5 tips for Valentine's Day

Welp... It's here. Cupid's Day. The Day of Love. St. Valentine's Day.


I don't "celebrate" Valentine's Day...but there are many who do and I'm hoping that this post will help you begin to think about the relationships in your life. The strategies that I'm going to share with you are SIMPLE....and with their implementation in a consistent manner, you will see CHANGE in your interactions and connections with loved ones. The great thing about understanding how behavior works is knowing that it works for people ages 0-99....this includes loved ones, children, partners, "situationships" and spouses.


Tip 1: BE POSITIVE in your interactions with loved ones.

More specifically, attend to them and acknowledge when they do things that you want to see. If you have followed my social media posts you know that I am ALL ABOUT building positive relationships as a foundation to promoting positive or desired behavior.


The bottom line is that #RelationshipsMatter. If the only time you interact with the people close is when they piss you off, disappoint you or fall short of the mark...guess what? THEY ARE NOT going to want to be around you. Imagine this....if my daughter comes home, does all her homework, completes her chores, reads 3 extra chapters without me prompting her to do so but forgets to walk the dog...if the first thing I say to her is, "Why didn't you walk the dog?!" without acknowledging any of the GREAT things she did prior....how likely is it that she will continue to do those things....NOT VERY LIKELY.


This strategy is key in building relationships and I like to remind my followers and readers of it by saying it in many ways....

Name and Notice....

What you Attend to Will Continue...

Catch them "being good"....


Tip 2: Watch for patterns.

Behavior Analysts do this all the time. We watch for what happens before and after behaviors. Then we attempt to manipulate those variables to increase desired behavior and diminish undesired behaviors.


Notice what your loved one likes; what drives them. Notice what prompts them to engage in certain behaviors that you like. If you have any control of how often these stimuli appear in their lives, make them happen more often and watch those behaviors increase! Also, notice what prompts them to engage in certain behaviors that you don't like. If you notice that every time you mention that it's time to balance the household budget that your spouse shuts down, you may need to consider how to prepare your spouse for that conversation before just dropping the bomb.


Tips 3 - 5 All focus on having BOUNDARIES. It's 2020 and everyone is about boundaries. These are three guidelines for how your boundaries or limits in relationships should be set:


Tip 3: Your boundaries must be ENFORCEABLE.

That means be realistic. Don't tell your partner you aren't going to ever speak to them ever again if you know that you are going to drunk text them 45 minutes later. The same goes for your children. Don't say you're going to give away all their toys for misbehavior if you aren't ready to do so. When you do this, you lose credibility. When you do this, the relationship crumbles.

Tip 4: Your boundaries must be EQUITABLE.

Let the consequences fit the action. Be reasonable. I have a "friend girl" that maximizes her husband's credit cards whenever he upsets her. This is her way of communicating her frustration. Instead of engaging in this ridiculous behavior, it may behoove her (and save some money) to clearly think about, then execute what the consequence will be for whatever specific action her husband did to anger her. That could be a difficult conversation, but when approached in a supportive and positive manner it can be done.


Tip 5: Your boundaries must be EXPLICIT.

This takes me back to another tip I share often on my page....SAY what you want to SEE. Be clear and simple. Too many words often confuse kids (and some adults too!) Limits are opportunities to GUIDE and TEACH expected behaviors and relate the consequences for meeting or not meeting expectations. In our romantic relationships this might look and sound like "When I text you and you respond within the hour it makes me feel safe and attended to. If you don't answer within the hour then I feel like you are ignoring me and I feel unloved." This gives your partner the opportunity to understand what you expect and what happens and even how you feel when they meet or don't meet the expectation.


Set high expectations in your relationships and clarify them with specific boundaries. They work! Happy Valentine's Day, lovers! Enjoy your day! #limits #boundaries #3Es #education #empowerment #teachers #BehaviorChange #BCBA #ProfessionalDevelopment #training #teaching #BCBAlife #BehaviorChange #BehaviorAnalysisWorks #ParentTraining #SIMPLIFYBEHAVIOR #ABA #PositiveParenting

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