Ep. 019 Helping our Kids Rewire Difficult Behaviors // Chrissy Austin, Speech Language Pathologist

Chrissy Austin, a SLP, teaches us a three-step process for helping our children rewire patterns of negative behavior
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All of our kids get stuck in behaviors that are difficult for us and others to deal with–perhaps it’s whining, interrupting, fighting with siblings, or defiance.

According to Chrissy Austin, a speech language pathologist with 17 years of experience teaching children social skills and communication, these neurological “loops” can be rewired.  She does it every day in her private practice, and, in this week’s episode, she teaches us how to do it!  We can follow this simple three-step process with our kids, in our homes:


1) Identify the specific troublesome behavior, and then ask yourself, “What SKILL does my child need to learn in order to change this behavior?”

2) Sit down with the child and make a GOAL to learn the new skill.  Have him or her make it visual by writing it down and/or drawing a picture.  Consider adding a hand cue.

3) Offer positive reinforcement through verbal praise whenever the child is working on their goal, and consider adding additional reinforcement through earning privileges, if needed.


Chrissy offers so many fantastic tips and interesting bits of research throughout the interview.  You won’t want to miss it, especially if you sometimes struggle with knowing how to help your children change.

Show Notes

-Michelle Garcia Winter: https://www.socialthinking.com/

-“Kids Beyond Limits” by Anat Baniel

-“Finally Focused” by James Greenblatt




About the Podcast Host, Rachel Nielson

Rachel taught high school English for five years before deciding to be a stay-at-home mom to her two miracle babies, Noah Atticus, who was adopted, and Sally Grace, who was conceived through IVF.

In her life, Rachel has experienced great sorrow but also great joy--and she loves diving deep into the topics that matter most. Thank you for listening to the podcast and giving her a chance to share her heart.


  1. Angie on 03/01/2018 at 8:58 AM

    Great episode! I can’t wait to start implementing this with my angry-outburst-prone 6 year-old.

    • Angie on 03/01/2018 at 9:02 AM

      Actually, I could use some help with this. My son really explodes in anger whenever his older brother and sister push his buttons (which they are so great at doing). So what would the skill be that he needs to stop this? I would say anger-management, but what does that look like to teach? Maybe “patience” would be a better skill to focus on? What would you say is the skill I should focus on?

      • Rachel Nielson on 03/03/2018 at 12:10 PM

        I will ask Chrissy!! Check back in the comments in a day or two! Thank you so much for taking the time to listen and comment. This is a great question, not just for your son, but for many many children.


      • Rachel Nielson on 04/19/2018 at 9:09 PM

        I asked Chrissy about this, but she never responded. (She is a busy lady!) I would say impulse control is probably the skill. Because he wants to lash out (maybe deservedly so), but he needs to learn how to control that impulse. That’s a little hard for a child to wrap their mind around, but maybe you could connect it to other times in life when we want to do something but we don’t. And teach him methods (and practice them) to stay calm when his siblings bug him, like taking deep breaths, or walking away, or coming to get you, or even saying something really silly instead of really mean. Just brainstorming here! Sorry it took me so long!

  2. Andrea on 04/18/2018 at 10:51 PM

    SO timely. I had the worst blowout I think I’ve ever had with my oldest daughter. She is explosive, angry, defiant. Very smart, sensitive, honest. And I want to do things positively and salvage what we have. The emotional bank account went bankrupt before bed so we’re going to have a bright, new day and start with a family meeting. Thank you so much!

    • Rachel Nielson on 04/19/2018 at 9:10 PM

      Oh mama, I have been there! She sounds very much like my son, actually. Yes, tomorrow is a new day! And family meetings are powerful–as are apologies. I had to apologize to my son tonight when I flipped out on him for flipping out on his sister. (Ha!) We can do this!

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