Tag Archives: Cheerios

Problem Solver

 

 

Bob Goddard

Okay, so back to the Claire Chronicles. It’s been two months since I reported anything on her progress. So this will serve as an update. Actually, more like a battle report.

At 18 months, Claire is still not crawling. But that doesn’t mean she isn’t developing. She is more mobile than ever, her primary method is rolling. And she’s fast. Turn around for five seconds and she’s across the room attacking the cat or reaching for some forbidden object such as the TV remote. Or something ridiculous, like the Christmas tree. It’s as if she has no real plan.

While Claire is very visual, exploring the world around her by looking at things, this is often supplemented by the sense of taste, everything she grabs goes in her mouth. Including the cat’s tail and the TV remote. And thus I’ve become more mobile than ever too. I often find myself bounding across the living room over the field of scattered toys she’s left behind for greater adventure elsewhere: “NOOOO…. NOT THE DOG’S WATER DISH…”

This impulse to move is powerful in humans. If we can’t do it one way, we’ll find another. It’s just a matter of figuring out how. This brings up another of Claire’s developmental advances: problem solving. She’s become quite the solver of problems. And this creates problems for me to solve.

In our effort to get Claire to crawl, we’re trying different ways to trigger the reciprocal, across the body coordination (left arm working with right leg and vice-versa) necessary for that form of mobility. Because of her ACC, this does not come naturally for Claire. So, we place her on her belly on the floor and then put things that she wants in front of her, just out of reach hoping that’ll entice her to move the necessary body parts to retrieve the item. I use what I consider the ideal bait: Cheerios.

Claire loves Cheerios. And for good reason, they’re wonderful in so many ways. They’re particularly good for use as reinforcement or just straight-up incentive. I tried using toys for reinforcement of desired behavior, but there is a built-in cruelty to that: you have to take the toy away in order to move on to the next step. A Cheerio is immediately and happily consumed, leaving the consumer looking for more.

I start by handing Claire a single Cheerio in the “first one’s free, kid” tradition. This primes the pump. Taking tiny bits or sips of anything that tastes good stimulates the taste buds in a way stuffing your mouth can’t. Thus we go into the exercise in a heightened state of expectation and motivation.

I have to be careful. She’s been known to lunge herself over the hand offering the first free Cheerio to the mother lode in my other hand just beyond it. I’ve learned to keep all additional Cheerio reinforcements in the big yellow box until I’m ready to deploy them.

Anyway, this is what happened in my first attempt with the Cheerio Just Out of Reach technique to get Claire to crawl:

 

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear me say “Oh, my goodness…” What I was actually thinking was “Oh, you little shit…” In endearment and admiration, of course. I try not to use bad language around the children, even though it’s sometimes difficult to refrain.

So, I said “damn the bacteria” and I placed the Cheerio directly on the carpeted floor, 18 inches or so out of reach. Fool-proof plan, I thought. Until, in one seamless motion, the little shit rolls in a 180 degree semi-circle and snatches the Cheerio with her little hand like a frog flicking a fly from mid-air. It was over and the Cheerio was in her mouth before I knew what was happening.

Of course, she wanted more. I just reached in the big yellow box and tossed her a bunch all at once.

There, problem solved.