Parenting could be physically, emotionally, and intellectually exhausting. It gets even more difficult when our children defy or challenge our authority. While many parents assume that punishment is the only way to change their behavior, research has shown that focused attention and positive reinforcement must be established between you and your child before punishment can be effective.
In The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child, Dr. Alan E. Kazdin writes, “Praise is one of the strongest ways to influence your child’s actions.” Punishment might temporarily stop the behavior, but it will not change it. Positive reinforcement should outweigh the negative by a ratio of 5:1.
Currey Ingram Academy, a Brentwood private school focused on students with learning differences, recommends the following to improve the positive reinforcement ratio with your children.
Schedule one-on-one time. Devote at least five to 10 minutes daily to each child. Spend this time in each other’s company doing things you both enjoy. Play a board game, watch a favorite movie, read a book together, or share a snack. According to Currey Ingram Academy, it does not matter what time of day you choose; what’s important is that this one-on-one moment is consistent and fun. This is not the time to reprimand your child for unwanted behavior.
Emphasize “start” behaviors as opposed to “stop” behaviors. “Start” behaviors would be along the lines of “sharing toys with your brother” or “tidying up your desk.” “Stop” behaviors would be “stop fighting with your brother” or “stop making a mess.” The Brentwood private school recommends identifying at least three start behaviors you want to see more often and praising your child each time these behaviors occur. Give it about a week and you’ll notice that these start behaviors are happening more frequently than stop behaviors.
Author and educator Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved” (Canfield & Hansen, 1995, p. 272).
Building the character of children/teens with learning differences can be a daunting and exhausting task, but there will be several opportunities to do so. More often than not, parents do not experience experience “ease and quiet” Helen Keller describes. Positive reinforcement will not be the solution to every issue you’ll encounter with your child, but it’s a great way to strengthen your relationship.
A private school in Brentwood, Currey Ingram Academy believes in giving students the education they deserve by promoting strengths and supporting differences. Get in touch by calling (615) 507-3173.