Anticipating Behavior

Thanks for coming by the Wednesday behavior edition of my blog. Today we’re going to learn how to be mind readers (almost) and talk about a topic that really sets parents apart.  I will warn you though that this is an easy topic to grasp on a broad scale but applying it to specific situations can be tricky.  The key to being good at anticipating behavior takes time, practice, reflection, and sometimes a little luck.  Here we go!      

In all my time working with others at St. Joseph or as a  teacher, the anticipation of behavior could be pinpointed as an area that set people apart.  In other words, those who could do it were easy to work with and those who couldn’t…. (recess anyone?)  Certain house parents were hard to work beside because they couldn’t see the next move from the children they were working with.  Sometimes parenting is similar to a chess match.  Good chess players may know the basic tenets of the game but great ones know how to win by anticipating and out thinking their opponent.   Here’s a couple of examples to illustrate the point.

An example of early-style Staunton Chess Set

 My mother used to babysit my oldest child while I was still teaching.  One day, she walked out of her house for some reason and Cameron came behind her and locked the door.  He was probably 2 1/2 at the time.  There was no way for her to get back in.  She left the house (what choice did she have) and walked down the road to where her brother in law lived.  Eventually, they found a way to get in but, as best I remember, the process took 45 minutes or so with an unsupervised child in the house. 

This story has stuck with me so every time I leave the house to get the mail, bring in the trash cans, or grab the newspaper, I always bring my house key.  Wouldn’t you know about a month ago, my youngest child did the same thing to me.  Luke thought it was pretty funny until I used my key to get back inside. After I got in, he wasn’t exactly laughing.  

No one is perfect at this skill though.  I’m certainly not the Anticipation King so here’s a story that will prove it.  About a week and a half ago, I was upstairs when I noticed half the doorknob had been taken off on the guest bedroom door.  The screwdriver was sitting on the night stand.  Obviously, my wife did it.  Why, you may ask?  I have no idea.  (If she reads this, I’m sure it was for a good reason- wink wink)

Upon seeing this, I knew it should be fixed but I was busy at the time and thought I would get to it later.  A couple of hours passed and I was in the basement working on a blog.  My oldest son came to the top of the steps and yelled, “Dad, mom needs you.”  I would like to tell you I jumped out of my chair and glided to my wife to alleviate her concern.  The truth is I walked up the stairs thinking, “what now?”

Lauren was at the bedroom door clearly flustered.  My youngest son had gone into the guest bedroom, shut the door and pulled out the other side of the door handle.  Unfortunately, the door locked and he was trapped.  Of course, the screwdriver I wanted was still inside the room.  I worked with the door for a minute but couldn’t find the trigger to release it.   It was at that point when I went into “man mode” and determined I needed my hammer.

By the time I made it back upstairs with my tool of destruction, Lauren had worked with the door some more and successfully unlocked it.  When the family went downstairs, I reattached the doorknob, heavily taped the lock on the inside part of the door, and brought the screwdriver downstairs.

Had I only anticipated things properly, I could have avoided the whole fiasco.  Sometimes, that’s what happens.  You mess up, reflect on how you messed up, and learn form it.

This Friday, I will return to answer another parenting question.  Hopefully, I will not be answering any questions about doorknobs or hardware supplies.  I also want to thank my readers who looked at last Friday’s post A Good Problem to Have.  There were almost 400 hits and 23 comments as best I remember.  All the support is greatly appreciated!!!


  1. Nicole Bouchard Bole says:

    Thanks for following. I'm your newest follower from

  2. Mrs. E says:

    Lol. That's funny, but so true. My son locked me out once. I never let that happen again, except he locked me out of our motel room. I just stepped on the balcany for a minute and thats all it took.

  3. Sara says:

    Thanks for following Touch of Home Learning. Following back! I have to admit the whole being locked out or our child being locked in is something that I never thought of (ours in only 1 so not much she can do yet, but she is starting to get into everything)

  4. Medifast Coupons says:

    I remember the days when you could stop at the store for a quick run in for some bread and leave the kids in the car. Possibly still running in the cold of winter. Well didn't my smarty pants little man locked his mommy out of the running car. And this is way before cell phones to call your car and unlock it. Tank of gas later and a lot of tears I didn't do that again. I have to call him and tell him this tale, I wonder if he remembers?

  5. Donna @ The House on says:

    Love your blog and I'm following you back!! You have excellent insight – wish you were around when my children were little but I will certainly use your advice with my grandchildren!

  6. Jessica D Torres says:

    My little one is crazy and always into something so I have become very good at anticipating behavior. I know if the bathroom door is open then she will put her hands in the toilet so I always close the bathroom door. I know that if the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs is open she will head straight for the top of the stairs so we always double check the baby gate. I love playing chess and I really liked your analogy that sometimes parenting is like a chess match. Jessica

  7. Anitra says:

    This is a retweet-worthy post. It amazes me how often we parent ourselves into a corner by just not thinking ahead! Thanks so much for commenting on my MBC discussion. You can link up at The MamaZone every Wednesday. I'm following you now.

  8. LessThanPerfectParen says:

    My son locked me in the bathroom for two hours when he was about three (we had a sliding lock on the outside of the door). Thank goodness nothing happened but I almost had a heart attack thinking of what he could get into being unsupervised for that long. Needless to say the sliding lock is gone and I became much batter at anticipating!

  9. viviankirkfield says:

    Thanks Clayton…I'm sure you saved some parents many tense moments of worry and helped avert possible tragedies…ALWAYS take your house key, even if you are running out for only a "sec".Also, if there is a connecting door from a garage into the house, make sure there is a key to that door hidden somewhere in the garage (if it is a different key from the main house door) to prevent the same problem if you run into the garage to get something and the door closes and locks behind you.

  10. TV's Take says:

    Gotta love it when they lock the door…. Thanks for the follow, now following you back! Great blog!

  11. Making It Work Mom says:

    I think that sometimes as parents we anticipate the problem, but still do nothing about it because we want to do one more thing or can't resist getting in the last word. For example, the mom who drags he child to one more store even though she knows that the child is probably going to melt down or the parent of the Teenager who has to get in the last word even when she/he knows that will only trigger the fight to start all over.It is important sometimes to take a step back and say "Okay I know what is going to happen and I know what I have to do and now I have to do it even if it is not what I want to do.Great Post

  12. Godsy Girl(TM) says:

    Sorry for the generic compliment, but YOU ROCK! I saw your post on MBC and checked you out. I love your sense of humor about real life stuff. I'll just bet it's gotten ya in trouble in years past. I know mine has. But now we're using our powers for good. LOL Hey, I just followed and will be back.Take care,GodsyGirl

  13. edmund says:

    Interesing perpectives and problems you highlighted here :)Haven't had to face any of those problems yet, but will definitely be anticipating them in the near future! :)

  14. Our Homeschool Revie says:

    That is scary about your son being in the house alone. Oh goodness! Thanks for stopping by my blog today!

  15. Mom to 2 Posh Lil Di says:

    My 3yr old locked us out of my in-laws house over the summer with no way of getting back in & they were out of the country! We had to call a locksmith & convince him we had the right to be there – all our stuff including my purse & id were inside! We had been out back in the pool! Now I carry keys everywhere! Great post!

  16. 1grown2togo says:

    Thanks for stopping by ~~ I'm your newest GFC friend~~Shari