Pediatric Behavioral Health

About Dawn Hartnett

Ms. HartnettMs. Hartnett received her Master in Social Work from Boston University.  A former director of Early Intervention, she specializes in Cognitive Behvioral Therapy and child development.  Her counseling experience includes children, adolescents, families and parenting.  She is a bright, outgoing person who can be both fun and supportive.

Areas of Practice
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Behavior Management Training
  • Individual, Familiy, and Group Therapy
  • Developmental Evaluations
Ms. Hartnett's Helpful Tip
Routines - Why Teach Them?
  • Routines help your child to gradually learn to do some things almost automatically.  When daily activities such as bathing, dressing or getting packed for school are more automatic, your child can do them more easily, without as much messing up, getting distracted or sidetracked.
  •  Routines help establish expectations.  Parents still have to maintain routines and watch for follow through, but they are not giving directions at every step.  Consider the difference: "Now put on your left sock, now your right sock, now your pants." Vs. "What is your routine?  Ok, good, what do you do first?  Right!  Go ahead now."  The responsibility for following the routine falls more on the child and the parent is freed from the role of the 'bad guy.'  The child also can feel more in control of herself, which is an enormous boost to her self-esteem and sense of competence.
  • Routines help children who have trouble remembering instructions, or who have difficulty with multistep instructions.  When you leave the room and you are not available to repeat the instructions, a routine (when finally learned) can help a child remember the sequence.  Repeating instructions or standing over your child becomes frustrating for both you and him.  Eventually, routines can help reduce nagging and reminders.  Begin by writing down the steps of the routine, for example, or having some way for you child to remember which steps to follow and in what order.
  • Routines can reduce anxiety and stress for your child.  Routines ca help to keep kids out of trouble.  For example, bedtime might be a difficult time for your child, because it is hared to wind down, or let go of wanting to be with parents.  In addition, your child might get ready for bed in a different order each night.  Arguing or nagging might create stress and anxiety as well.  Following the same routine can be relaxing, because both you and your child know the order of the steps.
  • Routines can also help to avoid some (not all) power struggles.  Some children, especially those with attention problems, receive many commands, reminders and nagging.  They begin to tune out, and may be less likely to do what we want.  They may even become negative, defiant, or oppositional with their parents.  This creates a cycle, because parents become more likely to nag, remind, and feel critical and frustrated with their children.