Model the Expected Behavior. It Leads to Quality Lives and Quality Health … for Your Children.

User Rating:  / 1
Category: Wellness Walk Talk
Model the Expected Behavior.
It Leads to Quality Lives and Quality Health … for Your Children.


Before Andy was a year old I heard from every Early Intervention professional that I needed to “model the expected behavior.” They were adamant that if I wanted Andy to learn how to do something, I had to do it myself, too.


Ok, they weren’t talking about diapers or drinking out of a bottle. The idea was if I signed “more,” whenever I asked him the question – not just in play to teach the sign – he would learn it faster.


As the both the boys grew, it made perfect sense. If I want them to keep their toys picked up, I should pick mine up, too. If I want them to use certain language, I should use it, too. If I want them to take care regarding their appearance, I must take care, too.


How about this:
If I want them to eat well and exercise regularly, I should eat well and exercise regularly, I should show them how.

Apple-icon-smallModel the expected behavior.

So what’s the barrier? There are many, of course. One of the things I’ve learned coaching families of kids with Down syndrome (and related disabilities), is that it’s hard to focus on our own health. There’s so much that is very important to do, that it feels selfish to focus on ourselves.


When I say that about my own life, a well-meaning professional will tell me, “you need to care for the caretaker to be able to provide care.”  I undestand the concept. Yet it feels selfish to do when I’m trying to develop community connections and watching my child’s loneliness grow or he is not well.  The trips out on the bike get fewer, the trips to the gym seem too time consuming, spending time working out menus feels frivolous. And my quality of health lingers.


Is that modeling the expected behavior? No.

A study published in Obesity, provides perspective – for your child with Down syndrome and all your family.

The study followed 80 parent-child pairs over a five month period involved in family education programs for childhood obesity. Some were in a program that focused on teaching parents only. Others were involved in a program that included the parent and the child. The researchers looked at the effectiveness of three types of parenting skills taught in the classes:


What did they learn? Those who chose to model the expected behavior had the only statistically significant impact on their child’s weight.


I am certain the other areas measured – as well as many strategies learned in the program – played a role. However, none were as strongly linked to a change in Body Mass Index (BMI) for the children in this study than the parents modeling the expected behavior to reduce their BMI.


What does this mean?


It means going to the gym, taking a walk, keeping a food journal, working with a dietitian, and losing weight to create your quality life and quality health is modeling the expected behavior for your child. It’s not selfish. It’s effective.

Model the expected behavior.


Let me know how it goes!

joan sig



Boutelle, K., Cafri, G., Crow, S. Parent Predictors of Child Weight change in Family Based Behavioral Obesity Treatment. Obesity. Spring 2012. (accessed online 3/23/12)


PS: What will you do to model the expected behavior for your child and family?

Consider these options: