How to Stop a Toddler from Throwing Things and Hitting Me – Solving Problem Behaviors

You’re still a great parent or even a great professional even when things don’t go perfectly every time. Today Rachel Smith, the Program Director for Turn Autism Around programs, joins me for her second time on the show. We are discussing her three-year-old son Everett and problem behaviors of throwing and hitting he started exhibiting when visiting my house and around his mom.

Throwing and Hitting Problem Behaviors

When I discuss problem behaviors, I really talk the most about prevention. But what happens when you’re in the thick of a problem behavior moment? This can be challenging for professionals and even the most informed parents, because safety and de-escalation become a priority. Many times the attention we divert to throwing, hitting, or other problem behaviors becomes a big reinforcement. In the case of Everett, who does not have autism, he has a new baby brother and is heavily reinforced by direct attention from mom. Additionally, Rachel was allowing Everett to bring his toys into places with him, in the case of this behavior these toys became weapons. When a child brings toys for comfort, their hands are occupied with them and they are in control of these items, which is another reinforcer for problem behavior.

Strategies for Stopping Hitting and Throwing for Kids With or Without Autism

As we mentioned, Everett does not have autism but with modified steps, supports, and reinforcements the strategies Rachel and I discuss in the episode can work for any child regardless of diagnosis. Step 1 for Rachel’s family was to talk it out. In a neutral environment, the family discusses throwing and hitting and the rules surrounding this behavior. They had a low pressure conversation where Everett understood he would be reminded of these rules from now on during these behaviors. Step 2 was following through with the new rules. This meant as soon as a toy was thrown, mom or dad or whoever was caretaker at the time would remove ALL toys from Everett’s hands and remove attention until Everett was calm. For example, Everett threw a dinosaur, the train was taken from his other hand and mom and dad carried on a conversion while giving Everett space to calm down. When Everett was calm enough to ask for his toy back, he’d get the toy and the situation would be resolved and everyone would move on.

Removing Attention from Problem Behavior

Attention is a huge reinforcer for problem behavior. This attention can come in many forms. Once you’ve stopped a problem behavior, the child does not get any attention surrounding it and the behavior itself does not get any attention. This means do not talk about the behavior, don’t read books about it, don’t talk about it later, simply ignore it. When a problem behavior is resolved at the moment, it is not brought up again. Using these techniques, Rachel has gotten Everett’s throwing and hitting from three times a day to zero in a very quick timeline. These strategies can work for anyone!

Please remember, if you find this episode helpful, help us get the word out! Find us on social media, on various channels and podcast hosting apps. Leave comments, likes, and shares! We want to change the world and help everyone Turn Autism Around.

Rachel Smith on the Turn Autism Around Podcast

Rachel Smith is a married mom of a 3-year-old boy and a 9 month old. She has an elementary special education degree as well as a Reading Specialist masters’ degree. She has recently become the Program Director for the Turn Autism Around programs. She used the program herself when her oldest son, Everett, was not using vocal language on time.


  • How to stop throwing and hitting behavior.
  • How to stop problem behaviors.
  • How to stop reinforcing problem behaviors.
  • Why you should remove attention during problem behaviors.
  • What are simple triggers for problem behavior?
  • Why good parents and good professionals still struggle with problem behavior.
  • What are interventions for attention seeking behavior?
Want to get started on the right path and start making a difference for your child or client with autism?


Rachel Smith – Turn Autism Around Podcast Transcript

Transcript for Podcast Episode: 185
How to Stop a Toddler from Throwing Things and Hitting Me - Solving Problem Behaviors
Hosted by: Dr. Mary Barbera
Guest: Rachel Smith

Mary: You're listening to the Turn Autism Around podcast episode number 185. Today we are bringing back Rachel Smith to the podcast. She is our program director here at Barbera Behavior Consulting, and she does a lot to help us prepare for podcasts and all kinds of things now. And we decided to have her back on because we are talking all about her three year old and how she got throwing and hitting behavior to zero. Her three year old Everett does not have autism. She is the mom of two kids. These techniques work with or without autism, no matter what the age of the child or ability level is. So Rachel and I go blow by blow what happened at my house several weeks ago, and what I recommended to stop throwing and hitting, what she did and the whole process is a rare opportunity to peek behind the curtain and see how you might be able to help your child or clients and get their major problem behaviors at or near zero. Let's get to this great episode with Rachel Smith.

Narrator: Welcome to the Turn Autism Around podcast. For both parents and professionals in the autism world who want to turn things around, be less stressed, and lead happier lives. And now your host, autism mom, behavior analyst and bestselling author, Dr. Mary Barbera.

Mary: Okay, Rachel, it is so great to have you back on the show. Thanks for your time.

Rachel: Thanks for having me again.

Mary: Yes. So, Rachel, you are on podcast number 144. So 40 ish episodes ago and at the time of that broadcast, you had done the recording in my video studio at my house. You were very pregnant with your second son, Ronan. So Everett is now a little over three and Ronan is nine months.

Rachel: Almost nine months.

Mary: Nine months. Okay. So I know in your previous episode you talked about your fall into the autism world being a special education teacher. Why don't you tell our listeners how you fell into the world of autism through my house and working with Lucas.

Rachel: Yeah, I'd love to. So when I was about 14, I was volunteering at a special needs camp. Aaron's Acres And you were there with Lucas, and I got to work with Lucas at camp, and then you were looking for some help. And so I was like a mommy's helper in the beginning. Like, I couldn't drive, you know, it wasn't like, you know, a full time babysitter or anything. But I was able to come and help you and like go on outings with you guys. And I was learning a lot, which was exciting. And then we lost touch for a little while. And then fast forward about ten years, I was looking for something on the side I was teaching. My now husband was working a lot, so I was just looking for something to do with my time and stumbled across each other on And I was really excited when you reached out. And then I've been working with Luke the last seven, eight years again, which has been really fun. And then as my family has expanded this position as program director opened up and I was able to move into that role but still get to see Luke, which is fun.

Mary: So yeah. So you're my only full time employee at this point for my very small company, but we're growing and it's exciting. So one tip there is I found several good therapists and baby sitters and so it is around the United States. At least I'm not sure it's worldwide, but you can type in your zip code for free. You can check it out at care about com. And then you can if you want to get a hold of somebody, you do have to pay either a monthly or annual fee. But I have managed to find, Rachel was one of my very best recruits. But, you know, we get that question a lot is like, how can I find people in my area?

Rachel: And it's nice because there's like a special needs section too. And I know as a former teacher, a lot of teachers are on the platform, especially looking for summer jobs and things like that. So it's a great way to find some help in the summer when kiddos are home full time.

Mary: Yeah. And you can either even find tutoring services and you can find elderly care services. If you have parents who are elderly, I think they may even be expanded to pet care. But we're back to the subject today. And this is all about how to get rid of not just reduce, but to get problem behaviors to zero or near zero levels. And specifically, we're going to talk about throwing items and hitting. And Rachel, like I said, has Everett, who is three years old now and shortly after he turned three, she brought him to my house to actually do some videos and take some pictures with me. She brought him twice back to back. And, you know, since my home wasn't really all that familiar with him, I mean, he's been here a few times, but it was months ago before COVID hit and he was a lot younger then. So, you know, like three year olds in a strange place is a little treacherous at times, you know? And then we have the additional pressure of wanting to take pictures, you know, it's different. And then his mom is taking the pictures and then the mom is working for me and I'm in the pictures, you know, so all of these dynamics, which, of course, the three year old's not going to know all of this, but when she brought him a few months ago, back to back, you know, maybe a couple of weeks apart, he had some throwing behavior, some hitting a little bit of hitting. I mean, nothing extremely dangerous. So we wanted to talk about that because Rachel was even with her special education background, her background with Lucas, her background as a program director, she knows not to use bribes, not to use punishment. But it gets tricky when you're in the moment when you have a child that's throwing or hitting. And I have always said I've done lots of podcasts and video blogs on the fact that we need to spend 95% of our time preventing problem behavior. And I don't really get into what to do when we actually have problem behavior because it really varies. And I don't want to tell people to do something that's even more dangerous. Like if you do this, the child may escalate, it may get worse. And so but before our very eyes Everett had had some problem behaviors and neither one of us reacted great to them. And by the point when Rachel left, she was almost in tears and asking me, like, what should I do? So while she was on her way home, I drafted an email and kind of was the Monday morning quarterback to help her solve this issue of throwing and hitting. And fast forward now hitting and throwing is gone. It's zero. So let's back up and describe what happened. Our second visit was really when we saw throwing a few times and a couple of hits. So you know, from your memory as a mom, what happened?

Problem Behaviors: Throwing and Hitting

Rachel: So, you know, we wanted him to do what we wanted him to do and he didn't want to. And, you know, so he was getting up from the table. He was throwing materials from the table, like swiping them off when I wanted him. Then, like then I was forcing him to pick it up and not really using my great strategies at the moment. And then he picked it up and then he threw it. And then when I was trying to help him pick it up again, I got close. He swatted at me, you know, I'm sweating at this point. So then I'm like, you know, if you're not going to be nice, then we have to leave. If you're not going to listen, we have to....

Mary: Those are threats. If we're not gonna be nice, we believe, you know, we're going to go home. You're not going to get the ice cream, I promised. And you also use some bribes. Come on. We just have to do these couple of things and then we're going to go for the ice cream. So whenever we're reminding kids of reinforcement in the moment as they're having problem behavior, that's a bribe. And that's going to lead to more problem behavior because we're pulling out good things. We're reminding them of reinforcement. So it's, you know, I was no banner BCBA either, but I was like, I don't want to really interfere here. He's not a client. You know, you are also trying to like reason with him and trying to get down on his level and being very kind and being, you know, no, thank you. We don't do that. Say you're sorry, which I did a whole video blog on why I don't like I'm sorry either in the moment or later, because it tends to put a lot of attention on problem behaviors. So when he was throwing things, it wasn't like harmful things necessarily.

Rachel: Or at people or anything, but, you know, it's still throwing.

Mary: He threw like a little Play-Doh container. Okay, that's not bad. But then when Rachel had him pick it up, he took the Play-Doh container and banged it on the wall. And, you know, again, he's only three. It didn't harm my wall. But I, of course, don't live in a palace either or like a lot of people might have a problem with a child of any kind. You know, and as that child would get older, you know, the damage could be worse. And then when Rachel eventually took him to the car, she actually was carrying him. He had a train in one hand and a dinosaur in the other, and he ended up not even being upset. I don't know what he was doing, but all of a sudden he threw this train, this metal train at Rachel's car. And at that point, Rachel's like, all done train. But she let him have the dinosaur, the plastic dinosaur in his hand, still strapped him in the car seat. He's crying. The other thing you did.

Rachel: I'm almost crying.

Mary: Yeah you were almost crying, you know, saying like, he's tired. He got up last night kind of quote unquote, making excuses for an employee. And Rachel's like, as soon as this happened and then I emailed and she got the situation under control, I said, you know, we should have you on the show if you're comfortable because this is life. This is what's happening for many, many people who are listening, whether you're a parent or professional. Once a child has problem behaviors it's a no win situation. It's not going to look perfect. You're going to have to get out of that problem behavior one way or the other. And we want to be kind. We want to be gentle, and we want to teach kids to not have problem behaviors like that's stressful. I mean, Rachel's has a three year old and a baby, you know, if she takes them both out. It's a lot. It's a lot to handle. And if you have a three year old that's not being compliant with holding Mommy's hand, following along, if he's throwing things, you know, the baby could get hurt even if he's not throwing it at the baby. Lots of things can happen.

Rachel: So just talking through it, too. Like, I even like I was trying to talk to him more. The behaviors were escalating. Right. So first he just wipes the Play-Doh off the floor. Had I stopped, then, like, we may not have seen throwing the Play-Doh, banging on the wall, like. But I kept going because I wanted to explain it to him, and I wanted him to stop. And he's got language. So I'm talking more and feeling like I need to explain it to him, but really like I should have just cut it off. And we may not have seen so many other issues, which is what I've been doing now. Like I know that we've talked through this, it's been a lot easier moving forward.

Mary: Yeah. So. Okay. Well, because we want to tell our listeners, really, we told them what happened. The other thing we should point out is both times he came to visit. He came in with the dinosaur and a train or two things. And, you know, little kids like to bring things with them, you know, for comfort and that sort of thing. But when you think about it, these two things are potential weapons. If we're trying to get him to do the shoe box program or we're trying to get him to learn to eat with utensils, or we're trying to get him to play nicely with his cousins. These two things are also. You know, he has control of them. So in order for him to do anything with his hands, we've got to get those items out of his hands. So that's a problem, too. And one of the things while we were standing by the car after he threw the train is that you said he never does this at daycare because they have rules. And probably one of those rules is kids don't bring in their own stuff to hoard because for sanitary reasons, for sharing reasons, for getting lost reasons, those things remain in the backpack or at home. So those sorts of things were also an issue. Yep. Well, okay. So now we know what happened and then the email, which we just actually pulled up and we're going to put the email that I sent Rachel in the show notes so you can go to to actually read the email that I sent. And we should point out Everett does not have autism. He had a speech delay. Rachel did the M chat, which I also did a video blog on many times. He always scored zero for autism signs, but he has had, you know, some problem behaviors, very normal. He has had a speech delay he did in the last episode when you were on, he had some aversion to brushing his teeth all of a sudden after you didn't put him to bed. And so it got unpaired. He also you've been posting, you've been helping me post on TikTok and Instagram. He gets overly excited. It looks like stimming behavior. Like we want to make everybody out there understand this isn't, these techniques aren't for kids just with autism. They're not for toddlers who are completely mute. They're not only for toddlers who talk, who understand, all of these things can be done in a child friendly, positive way. But when we have problem behaviors, we can't continue reinforcing that. I mean, his behavior is telling's not happening at school. It's only happening for mom. That mom is reinforcing it. So whenever you see a problem behavior, someone or something is being reinforced. So how do you think you were reinforcing that and it was just you? Or was it his dad?

Rachel: Mainly me? Occasionally he would for when dad was home, but mainly me. And I think it's because I want to be overly positive with him. And I think that's great parenting when you can be positive. But I was always trying to be positive and sometimes you do have to be a little more firm where Dad's not afraid to be a little more firm. You know, I think trying to have the conversation and talk him through it in that moment or even after was giving it a lot of attention and then continuing to see those things because, you know, there is a new baby I am nursing, so I'm there is time being taken away from him to attend to Ronan. And if he's having problem behaviors and I have to address those that he's getting all of mom's attention right then and there. So I definitely know that I was reinforcing and not on purpose and not at my fault. And I think that that's important. I think one of the first lines in your email was like, you're a great mom. And like, I needed to hear that first. And I think that as moms, we feel so much pressure and guilt and all of those things anyway that like, it's okay to remember that like you're still a great mom even if things didn't go well or you're still a great professional, even if there was a problem. So I appreciated that.

Mary: Yeah. And you know, you're making these in the moment decisions. Some of them are going to be great and some of them are going to be a little off and don't beat yourself up because you can always you know, tomorrow's a new day, clear the slate and you get rid of the problem behaviors.

Rachel: And even like in that moment at your house, right? Like the self-talk I was having within my head is like Harry's watching you, you know, you're telling other people what they should be doing and you're not even doing it right. Like, look at your kid right now. And it's like, I have all these things swirling in my head as I'm also trying to address my toddler who's having a problem. So I think sometimes, you know, it's not going to be perfect. But then stepping back and looking at the situation and how to address it and what I could have done differently, that's only great parenting, great and being a great professional is taking a step back and I'm looking at the situation and how you can do it differently next time.

Mary: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Okay. So first and foremost, safety is always the first priority, right? So if your child flops to the ground in the Wal-Mart parking lot, you might have to pick him or her up. You might have to. If the child's too big to pick up, you might have to use bribes and threats. You might have to do whatever you have to do to get that child to safety. And so everything we say here isn't advice, it's informational purposes only. And we really are thankful to Rachel for coming on and being brave and kind of allowing us to kind of look into, I wish we would have had a videographer.

Rachel: Right at that moment.

Mary: Yeah, video the whole thing. But, you know, a lot of times when those sorts of things happen, when a child starts having problem behaviors, the video stops. And I'm not saying that's that's a bad thing, but we do need to review what happened, at least in our head, at least kind of in writing, to see to make sure if you don't know what the function was, if you don't know what you did wrong, we've got to figure it out because these things aren't just going to naturally go away. They're being reinforced, they're going to continue. And you said to me, either in person or over email, that this throwing behavior was happening on a daily basis.

Are you reinforcing problem behavior?

Rachel: Oh, yeah, it was happening a lot. And I again, I know I was reinforcing it by giving him so much attention. Yeah. We'll talk about what we did to fix that. But I also think it's important to like. I think when we as parents think of the word threats, like we're threatening, like it doesn't have to be like, oh, I'm putting you on time out or, you know, I'm going to hit you or like those kinds of things. Like I think sometimes we're like, Well, I'm not doing that, but if I'm not following through on whatever it is I'm saying, then it is a threat and he's learning that.

Mary: So we don't want kids to respond to threats even if they work, we want to be positive. But at the same time, you know, I use the analogy we want to be the spoiling grandma when everything's going well, but when we have problem behaviors, we can't keep being the spoiling grandma, we have to be firmer, be not screaming, be gentle, but stop the reinforcement. Stop talking to the child, stop placing additional demands. You know, we have a whole course called No More Timeout, which is a very low price offer. You can find out all the details at We'll put it in the show notes as well. But, you know, even putting kids in timeout and then they get into more trouble and they get more attention for that. And it's just a very vicious cycle. So in the email. I said a couple of things. I said, first of all, when you go places like to my house or to your cousins or to the grocery store or wherever you go, I think it would be best if Everett and three/two year olds would not be carrying things with them. Because if he's carrying things and Rachel has her baby and then his hands are busy, he might not be able to hold hands for safety. He may throw things if he gets mad. So in general, I would say one rule of thumb is when you're going places, try to leave those items either in the car, in the diaper bag, you be in control of the items that can potentially become a problem.

Rachel: Yeah, we've been leaving things in his cup holders so he knows when we get out of the car they go in his cup holders and we're good about that. That's been going good.

Mary: Awesome. And then if throwing or hitting, we're going to mostly talk about throwing, but the same rules apply for hitting or throwing or kicking or flopping to the ground. Like we have to be consistent. And not only Rachel needs to do these things, but her husband needs to do these things. The babysitter, if he's being watched by anybody, everybody needs to be on the same playbook because kids are really smart. So the next thing is, if he does throw, not to make him pick it up, especially right then and there, you need to ignore the behavior you don't want and attend to the behavior you do want. Don't use threats or bribes like threatening to leave or bribing. But if he's good, if he shapes up, we'll go for ice cream. Those are both very dangerous in terms of shaping up more attention seeking behavior in the form of problem behaviors we already covered, saying why I'm sorry. It just usually doesn't doesn't help the situation, whether it's really right then or later. And when we're talking about the problem behavior, you know, 15 minutes later or an hour later, a day later, that is all bringing up attention about the problem behavior. Once a problem behavior happens and is solved and is done, the slate is clear. We are never talking about that problem behavior again to the child. I spell it if I need to, we can keep data on it. That's all fine. But talking to a child after the fact, especially a child who's young or has a developmental level of a younger child, they're just not going to understand it fully. And even if they do, it's just more attention. Some people say they used social stories in anticipation. We don't hit again. Too much attention on the behaviors you don't want. So I don't agree with social stories for preventing or after the fact of problem behaviors, they tend to backfire. We talked about leaving toys in the car and the diaper bag. And the other thing is, we want to, at the grocery store or at the park or at my house, we want to be the givers of good things. So having him bring his own things is a bad idea. Okay. So those are the basics. So then what I suggested is that you and your husband Riley sit down with Everett when he's calm and in a good mood and after dinner that day and just set some new ground rules. Okay. And I said, don't blame it on Ms.Mary's house, for God's sakes. So sit him down and. And so what? Tell us.

Step 1: New Rules and Boundaries

Rachel: We did. We, Riley and I, had a brief conversation about what that would look like. So we're on the same page going into it. And, you know, we just sat him down and we said, Hey, buddy, like, you're a big boy, you're three, and we can't throw our toys and we can't hit people like that. We just can't do that anymore. So we're going to have some new roles and that's what they're going to look like. And then we said, you know, if you throw something, mommy and daddy are going to help remind you that that's not a good idea. And we're going to have to take everything that's in your hands at that time. And he kind of looked at me. He was like, okay. And then I said, you know, and we're not going to talk to you until you calm down. So when you calm down, then you can have your things back, but not when we're upset. And he was just like, okay. And then I said, And we're only going to be allowed to throw balls outside. That's our that's a big new rule because Riley and I both, like we were on the same page mainly, but like sometimes we'd be like, Oh, well, it was just like a little thing or, you know, that was just like a softball that he threw inside or whatever, you know? Like it wasn't clear for him either. So we all, all three of us are on the same page. And when the sitter came, she's on the same page. You know that this is what that looks like. We only throw balls outside. You know, we don't throw anything inside. And if we do anything that's in his hands gets taken. So we had the chance to...

Mary: Talk to him. You warned him that you were going to take everything out of his hands gently.

Rachel: Yeah. We're not grabbing.

Mary: Not grabbing. And it's pretty easy, especially if you have a three year old to slide the dinosaur out of his hands when he throws the train. Like, you might as well get everything out of his hands and then let him calm down.

Rachel: Yeah.

Mary: While we're calming down, there's no talking to him. There's no rubbing his back or hugging him. And while you're like, well, that sounds cruel, that doesn't sound very child friendly. But you know what? It only takes a couple of seconds or a couple of minutes max. So a child realizes, wow, they're serious. And I said to Rachel, like, you can even use and I don't know if I have a blog on this or anything, but it's the talk among yourself procedure where if Rachel and Riley are in the room, he throws, he gets his stuff taken out. Everett might be crying, and Rachel and Riley could just be having a discussion about something else. So, yeah, work was a little tough today, blah, blah, blah. As soon as ever it gets quiet. And then it was like, I would do, Oh, you want juice. Okay, let's get some juice. Okay. Can you calm down? You can use the shush and give. Shhh, okay, say it like this. Mommy, can I have some juice? Mommy, can I have some juice? Sure, buddy. Let's go get some juice. The slate is wiped clean. You are back to your positive energy. You're spoiling grandma. And. And so that's what you explained to him. And then had....

Rachel: The opportunity to practice that evening.

Step 2: Follow Through, Ignore the Bad and Reinforce the Good

Mary: Just that evening. So he was throwing, I think you said about three times a day on your selection, you don't need a strict baseline on it. And so that night he forgot. And when you told him the rules, you said, you're probably going to forget. We're going to help you. We're going to remind you. And so how did that go?

Rachel: So he threw something. I think it was probably a dinosaur. And I picked that one up and took the one that was in his hand. And I literally just kind of turned around and started talking to my husband. You know, that was a good dinner. You know, whatever. He's crying because now I've taken what he wanted.

Mary: And you've taken your attention, which he's used to grabbing for throwing, which is really powerful.

Rachel: So now I've taken that. I think he cried for 30 seconds and then he came up. Over any like, you know, tugged on my shirt and he was just like, Mommy, Mommy, I want my dinosaur. And I was like, I turned around and I was like, Hey, buddy, like, I'm glad to see you smiling. Because at that point, like, when I turned around, he, like, smiled at me, and I was glad to see you smiling. And I was like, What do you want? You want my dinosaur? And I was like, okay, like, here's your dinosaur. And then we just didn't talk about it. And then it was pretty close to bedtime, so there weren't any problems that night. And then the next day I think he, you know, we had a good morning and then like right before nap as he was getting tired, it happened again. And I took the things and I turned away. And now at that point, my husband's at work, so I just kind of scrolled my phone or it looked like I was scrolling my phone again, taking my attention away from him. And I think he cried for like 20 seconds, you know, and he was like, I know what I need to do. So he came over and he was like, Hi, Mommy. And I was like, Hey, buddy, you know? And he's happy. And he was like, I'd like my dinosaur, please. Okay, you know, here's your dinosaur. He's happy, whatever. So that worked. And we really, I think, like, had like two or three more times where he threw and we needed to do that before, you know, he would then like think about it and like I'm gonna throw and then he would stop and he'd like take a deep breath and do his thing, even to the point where we were at the beach with family and he, his cousins are amazing age and they were throwing sand. And even though we were outside, sand isn't something we throw. So he picked up a handful and he looked at me and he was like, Mommy, can I throw the sand? And I was like, I don't think that's a good idea, but like, let's put it down. So then he put the sand down and it was totally fine, but even thought about it beforehand. Like even though they're doing that, I know I'm not supposed to. So I was like, Alright, like we're, we got this.

Mary: So then, I mean, that's really good to, like, go from three times a day to like zero or near zero levels. And you commented to me like he's so much easier to deal with.

Rachel: So much easier, Yeah.

Mary: Yeah.

Rachel: And like, even like putting the things in the car seat before we get out of the car. Like now I don't have to keep track of which dinosaur did we bring or which whatever did we bring and not lose it. But like he's because I'm thinking about things ahead of time and setting things up better and reinforcing things as I need to. It's just so much easier. Like I took him and his brother and our niece who's five. So, five, three and a baby and went to the like little kid theme park by us by myself and was totally confident. And it was fine because I knew that he had been listening, that we don't have the opportunity to throw things and what I needed to do to set him up to be successful. So I definitely feel better.

Mary: Yeah. Yeah. And it doesn't matter. Like if you're listening and you're like, Yeah, my child's two or my child's five and has autism and doesn't speak and won't understand all that. You could still use these same techniques. You can still have rules. Even if you don't explain the rules, you could still have rules that you were going to put it, put the dinosaur in the train and the cups. You might have to add more reinforcement to get out of the car without the stuff. You can still take away the things. If there's throwing, you can still talk among yourself or scroll on your phone until you get calm, which may be a few seconds and maybe a few minutes. But as long as you stay with the child, you know they're safe. You don't want it to escalate on top of that. And obviously, if you've got severe problem behaviors, you're probably going to need a behavior analyst to be right there to coach you. I mean, this is Rachel. She's well trained. She's a special ed teacher. She's got lots of years of experience. But it also shows you that it can be turned around pretty quickly and pretty effectively with some of these proven techniques. So anything else you can think of? I think that was pretty much it.

Rachel: I think that pretty much covers it. I know that I was getting trapped in that cycle of he has language, I need to explain it to him. And that's one of those things that Kelsey and I had even talked about was like, sometimes it always almost feels harder, but it doesn't have to be. And as soon as we implemented the strategies that I had been telling other people to implement, as soon as I implemented them myself again, it was successful. So again, just to remind people that like, it's not going to be perfect all the time, that parenting and being a professional with kids like it's not a perfect science, but there are these really great techniques that you can use to turn things around really quickly, and then you get to go back to being the one that's fun and happy and you know, they want to be around.

Mary: So yeah. And if you're having, you know, crying, throwing tantrums, hitting daily, you know, a few times a day. These techniques and others within my book, my courses, the mini course. They can really help you assess, make a plan and implement so that you can get major problem behaviors at or near zero. That is our goal and we would consider even light hits or throwing from a three year old major problem behaviors because somebody could get hurt and property damage can happen. So don't pass it off as just the terrible twos or that's what three year olds do. Now, no child has to do these things. And if they are, it's being reinforced and we can learn ways to prevent and not reinforce when it does happen. So before I let you go, Rachel, part of our podcast goals are not to just help the kids, but to help the parents and professionals, too. So in your busy life, do you have any self-care tips or stress reduction tools?

Rachel: Oh, that's tough with two little ones, but I have been getting better about asking for help when I need it or if I need a break. It's okay. It's okay to need a break from your kids sometimes, it doesn't make you a bad mom. It actually makes me a better mom when I take a break. So I think really just being able to lean on the people around you that are your support is great. And yeah, I've been trying to read more too, which has been good for me because I enjoy that.

Mary: So nice. Nice. All right. Well, you can get all the show notes, including the email that I sent to Rachel, I hope you love this episode as much as I did. If you did share it, comment, leave a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you're listening. Help us spread the word. We're on TikTok, Instagram, both at @TurnAutismAround. We're on Facebook, YouTube, you name it, we're there. Come find us and don't just find, comment, share or help us get the word out. We're really trying to make a massive impact on the world. So thank you so much, Rachel, and have a good one.

Rachel: Thanks. You too.

Mary: If you're a parent or an autism professional and enjoy listening to this podcast, you have to come check out my online course and community where we take all of this material and we apply it. You'll learn life changing strategies to get your child or clients to reach their fullest potential. Join me for a free online workshop at where you can learn how to avoid common mistakes. You can see videos of me working with kids with and without autism, and you can learn more about joining my online course and community at a very special discount. Once again, go to for all the details. I hope to see you there.