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Friday, August 8, 2008

A good word goes a long way

I've learned over the years, either at previous jobs or just in the real world, a little positive reinforcement goes a long way. A recent article in the August Parents magazine stated the same goes for children. Well, yeah. You mean I don't have to yell and scream at my child to get him to do things?? (side note: I don't do this to my child, just to my dog. Unfortunately, I think the child is catching on to this behavior as well.) The key: is the catch them being good and really praise them.

According to Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D., president of the American Psychological Association, tough-love attitude that so many parents nowadays are taking, is really not all that great for our children. Granted we don't want our children walking all over us. I mean, we are suppose to be the ones calling the shots, not the child. According to this researcher, if you really want your child to behave, you actually need to praise them MORE enthusiastically -- and you can't rely on punishment to fix a discipline problem.

"More enthusiastically." Does that include a marching band and confetti??

"Studies have shown that recognizing good behavior is the only way to teach a child what you want her to do -- and to lock that behavior in." If you instead punish your child for bad behavior- yelling or sending them to "time-out", they might change the ways temporarily. But before you know it, they'll back to the bad behavior.

Recently, hubby and I have been really after Little Man for throwing his food. We've tried every approach. Ignoring. Grabbing his hand and saying "No throwing food." Tapping his hand (this totally back fired when he started slapping his own hand when we turned to look at him when he did throw food). Just plain taking the food away from him and ending the meal. Or any combination of the above mentioned strategies. I read this article and thought we needed to try this approach.

We started last week. We really made sure to watch for signs of him being all done. He's done a great job at telling us "all done", but if hubby and I are having a conversation that, God forbid does not include him, he's quick to start throwing something.

We made sure to start right at breakfast. Fresh day, fresh start. As soon as he said he was done, I made sure to ask him "You sure you all done?" He replied yes, I removed his tray, cleaned his hands and then showed him. "Little Man, look! You didn't throw any food on the floor! What a great job! Thank you so much for not throwing any food!" He looked at me, pointed to the floor, made his "uh oh" sound, and shook his head. "That's right, buddy! Thank you for not throwing your food!"

Again, I did the same things at snack time and at lunch. Yes, we had a little oops here and there, but for the most part, it really worked! By the end of this week, still making sure to praise him with "enthusiasm", he's not throwing his food. I think the biggest part was really paying attention to his cues about when he was done. The hard part though was deciphering when he was saying "I don't think I want to eat what you gave me" versus "I'm full and I'm done."

Let's see if this works. Here's to hoping it lasts more than a week... or a month... or maybe two months.

1 comment:

Jude said...

You are a GREAT Mommy! A is so lucky to have you...and to think you weren't having kids!