Friday, December 16, 2011

Controlling Tantrums 101

Perhaps parents can learn the principles of tantrum control by watching a few youtube tantrum videos.

Many tantrums are the results of misdirected parental attention, as illustrated by this youtube video:

But many parents can't seem to figure this out. At 1:15 in this next tantrum video, the parent hits upon the right strategy, but does not know how to follow through. Notice that the second he directs his attention from his tantruming daughter and redirects it to praising a well behaved kid, his daughter's tantrum starts to abate and she starts cooperating. He should have continued to praise the other kid and should have praised his daughter for putting on her shoes. But instead, he reverts to his usual pattern and the tantrum revs up again:

Most parenting books are not based on evidence from research on how to control unwanted behavior, so they give poor guidance and even advocate methods that are known to increase unwanted behavior. One good evidenced-based parenting book is the Kazdin Method by Alan Kazdin, head of the Yale Parenting Center and former head of the APA:

Most unwanted behavior can be addressed by ignoring it and praising the opposite. Give your kids lots of praise and facetime when they are exhibiting good behavior and moving toward self-control. It OK and good to give a kid having a first tantrum a bit of empathy, but you need to move to ignoring pretty quickly to avoid reinforcing unwanted behavior and thereby getting more of the behavior that you don't want.

Not all tantrums are attention-driven. Tantrums have other causes and it's good to try to ferret out the cause. Certainly a kid's early tantrums are initialy driven by frustration. It's only later that a kid learns that he can control his parents via tantrums, if the parents fall into the wrong response pattern.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

How to Find a Used Car with ESC

Electronic stability control (ESC) it the most important non-retrofittable safety feature in the history of the automobile. It prevents about 1/3 of fatalities. It's standard on all vehicles under 10,000 pounds starting with the 2012 model year. But finding it on an used car can be a challenge, particulary if you are looking for an older car or an economy car.

Web sites that can help you find the models that have ESC are:

It is optional on some models, so you have to bore down to the trims to see which trims have it as standard. I have not found a good tabulation page for trims, but Edmunds has information on the trims in its feature lists and reviews:
Edmunds uses the term "stability control" for ESC.
If it's optional on a trim then that typically means its could have been purchased as a standalone option, but few buyers did that so its probably going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack. (But VWs might be an exception to this rule - at least it seems to me to be easier to find a used VW with ESC as a standalone feature.)

Finally, you need to be aware that all these web sites, and other information sources, have errors. IIHS and Safecar conflict on the 2008 Malibu Hybrid. IIHS and Safecar both ignore the conversion van aftermarket where cargo van versions of certain passeger van models have been converted to passenger vans that don't have ESC. Edmunds lists the 2008 Malibu LS as having ESC, but it's not available on that trim. You need to confirm that the vehicle you buy has ESC. Used car ads, salespeople, and even window stickers are not reliable. Consulting the owner's manual will help. There is typically an off button for ESC or an icon that lights up during the icon check. (The icon check happens when you turn the key at or before starting the car.) It's not easy because almost every car maker has it's own product name for ESC:
(BTW, You will probably never need to use the ESC off button, check the owner's manual for when that is warranted.)

The search function at allows additional keywords to be specified to modify a used car search.  Adding "stability control" as a keyword with the "Exact Search" option is a useful screen for vehicles with ESC, but I don't think its perfect.

Some of my favorite used cars with ESC:
The 2008 Chevy Malibu New Model (not Classic) LT or LTZ. Car of the Year in 2008.
Toyota 4Runners for the 2001 model year and later models. One of the earliest non-luxury models with ESC.  Might be possible to find a 2000 or later Toyota Avalon with ESC and side air bags for around $5000, but ESC was optional in the early years so it might take some digging to find one.