Calm/Assertive Parenting Procedure (CAPP): How to Make Coat-Losing a Non-Functional Behavior

 

As the days begin to get colder here in Ohio, I am reminded of my fifth grade year when my mother bought me seven coats, one at a time. I don’t think I had a coat for more than three weeks before losing it. My mother was (understandably) beside herself. With every lost coat, lectures about appreciation and responsibility piled up. I remember just taking the yelling and lectures and waiting until the firestorm ended and my brand new coat magically appeared. My mother stopped buying me coats only when the weather got warm enough for me to no longer need a jacket.

Many parents find the chronic coat losing to be a tough situation, and it really is unless you have a carefully planned out procedure that will train your kid to not lose his coat without forcing her to freeze to death.

And that is what makes this particular problem so difficult: even if you are one of the rare parents who understands that a kid won’t learn responsibility without suffering the consequences of being irresponsible, how do you allow your kid to suffer in order to learn without experiencing hypothermia? While responsibility is important to learn, it probably isn’t worth losing fingers and toes to frost bite in order to become a responsible citizen.

The first mistake my mother made was to own my problem by getting mad about the loss of the coat. Working backwards now, she was getting mad because she knew that I wasn’t learning to be responsible and she knew she was going to have to pay for another coat. This CAPP will allow you to avoid getting mad because you will not have to buy another coat and you will be allowing your kid to learn to be responsible almost immediately after losing his first coat of the season. In short, you won’t have to worry about getting mad because there will not be anything to get mad about!

As always with any CAPP, if executed as directed, it will extinguish the negative behavior in question. It will involve setting the expectation for behavior only once. This is not theory and it is not “cute” advice. This is a way of getting rid of negative behaviors that, if exhibited, will lead to your child having a life that you would rather them not have.

With this CAPP in particular, the interventions can only be used if the kid leaves the coat somewhere while they are with the parent, so the interventions section will be quite short. It is mostly about what not to do if a parent sees their kid forgetting his coat somewhere.

Most likely, the kid will lose the coat when not in the presence of the parent. In this case we will go straight to consequences. As always, consequences for every possible situation will be included.

Setting the Expectation

Parent (handing Kid a brand new coat on the first chilly day in September): Here’s the one coat that I will be buying for you for this school year.

Kid: What about whe-, I mean if I lose it?

Parent: You will just have to find out, I suppose.

 

Intervention

As previously stated, interventions can only be used if the parent sees Kid walking away from his jacket. Simply saying “What are you forgetting?” while walking away is a great way to make Kid think about what he needs to do without owning the Kid’s potential problem. Never retrieve a kid’s coat for him.

Setting Up the Consequence

That afternoon Kid gets off the bus. Instead of a coat, he is wearing a dopey look on his face.

Kid: Well, I’ve done it again. I have no idea where my coat is. I was thinking that the coat that you will buy me tonight shall have tortoise shell buttons. Something in a pea coat, perhaps?

Parent: Oh, man. How many coats did I say I will buy you per year?

Kid: You were joking, right?

Parent: You’ll see.

That night Parent tellsKid that Parent is happy to take Kid to buy a coat. Parent drives to the local Goodwill store. Once inside, Parent pulls out some money.

Consequence #1: If Kid Has Money

Parent: I took this from your bank at home. I charge five dollars to cover gas and my service fee for driving you here, so I will be pocketing this fiver. Here’s some more of your money. You have 10 minutes to pick out any coat you can afford. If you haven’t picked out a coat by that time, I will be picking it out for you. Thanks.

Kid: THAT’S NOT FAIR!

Parent: I hear you. I’ll be looking at shoes.

If Kid selects and pays for a coat in the allotted time, great. If Kid doesn’t, it’s still great. Parentpulls out some more of Kid’s money, and buys a very basic coat. Parent gives back all change to Kid after the transaction.

Consequence #2: If Kid Does Not Have Money

Before taking Kid to the goodwill store, Parent takes toys and video games from Kid’s room. He pawns as many of them as is necessary to get the money needed to buy two very basic thrift store coats, plus five dollars. Parent can do this with or without Kid present.

Parent: I have pawned many of your toys and video games in order to make it possible for you to use your own money to buy a coat and to pay for my time and gas for taking you here. So I am pocketing this fiver. Here’s the rest. You have 10 minutes to pick out any coat you can afford. If you haven’t picked out a coat by that time, I will be picking it out for you. Thanks.

Kid: THAT’S NOT FAIR!

Parent: I hear you. I’ll be looking at shoes.

If Kid selects and pays for a coat in the allotted time, great. If Kid doesn’t, it’s still great. Parent pulls out some more of Kid’s money, and buys a very basic coat. Parent gives back all change to Kid after the transaction.

  • If Kid throws such a tantrum at the Goodwill store or pawn shop that he embarrasses the parent, Kid will have to stay home to practice using appropriate behavior until such time as Parent can once again be confident that Kid is capable of acting in a manner that is appropriate for being in public.
  • If this tantrum occurs before the coat is bought, Parent takes kid home immediately and then comes back and picks out a coat for Parent also charges Kid an extra 5 dollar service fee.
  • If Kid throws a tantrum and refuses to go home with Parent, Parent tells Kid that he can either ride home in the family car, or he can ride to the police station with a police officer.
  • If Kid refuses to go in the family car, Parent should call the police and ask them to take Kid into custody and have him charged with being an unruly youth, incorrigible youth, or whatever term Parent’s home state uses.