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With Letha Marchetti
The Baffling Behavior Expert

Helping children gain self-control is really about supporting development.

Security is calming for children. There is an attitude you can adopt that supports your child’s security. When you are having special time together, try thinking, “Right now, you are the most important person in the world, to me.” Children can sense this and settle. That settling makes neurological pathways that can be repeated. As the nervous system develops, each time the child returns to this pathway, self-control is enhanced.

If you are a teacher with lots of children to attend to at once, how can this attitude affect your class?

Children develop a sense of being valued by having your full attention.
What are two things you can do to give your child this important start in life?

If some time with all of your attention helps your child develop well, do you think more frequent times like this will be helpful?

Which three times during the day can you give your child 5 minutes of undivided attention?

Since consistency helps children develop self-control, think of a time when your child has less control. How can you add consistency, even ritual, to that experience?

Let’s imagine the challenging time is getting out the door.Here’s a chant can be helpful: “I have my coat. I have my pack. I have my hug and I’ll be back.” This can be used as a back and forth chant, “Do you have your coat? Do you have your pack?” The child may respond, “I have my coat, I have my pack, I’ll take my hug and I’ll be back!” Let it grow into what works for you, changing it as needed.

Activation(getting ready for something) happens in the body. We calm the body through sensation. Which sensations does your child typically go to so she or he can calm?


Generally, sensing one’s body is a useful way to calm. The fancy word for this is proprioception. It means self-awareness, the physical sense of being in the body. This is why people tend to calm when they are massaged. Your child may love to be rubbed and touched. If this is not the case; there is another sense, perhaps vision, that will help the child’s system calm down.

What do shoes have to do with our sense of self-awareness?

Does your child generally do better with more sensory input or less? Yes, the type of sensation is important. Maybe she likes more hugs and less light touch. Also, this can change during the day. What’s good now, may not be acceptable later. Getting to know this child, to “feel with him or her” is the rewarding task of those dealing with baffling behaviors.

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“Letha, It is hard for us to put into words just how much we value you as a part of (our child’s) development. We are truly blessed and grateful for all you have done. Best of luck with the Books and with all of the Great Things you have ahead!”

R. & M. T

“Dear Letha, Thank you so much for all the work you have done. I have learned so much from you. (My child) has grown so much and I know you are a huge part of his developing process. Thank you! With Love,”

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