Ever notice how quickly crazy behaviors spread? We see it everywhere. It can feel like a wind-blown wildfire, or if you are a teacher, an ant invasion at a picnic. I call it the behavioral contagion effect. Simply put, our behaviors strongly influence the behaviors of others.

When our four boys were young my wife and I didn’t stand a chance if they were together when the “crazies” hit. For starters, we were outnumbered. Beyond that, they fed off each other’s behaviors – which escalated things quickly. Our instinct was to divide and conquer, and fortunately, it was a good one.

When we get individuals alone we can work through problems free from the influence of others. This goes a long way in both bringing down drama levels and avoiding potential power struggles brought on by bystanders inadvertently stirring things up.

When faced with challenging behaviors, be that of children or adults, isolate problems and have face-to-face discussions when all are calm. Not only do you stand a better chance of de-escalating situations, but strengthening relationships in the process. The outcome is more than worth the effort.