Behavior Modification: Part 1 of 2
This area has probably been my toughest as a mom. Having high strung kids with mild sensory issue's along with "envelope pushing" personality styles....I had and still have at times my struggles. However, I have figured some things out.
Finding ways to instill in our children good morals, appropriate social behavior, and teaching them to understand that rules are important, and need to be followed is challenging for every mom.
What Did Not Work:
Yelling: I'm by nature not a yeller, however, kids....... I remember the first time I
lost my temper and really yelled at my kids. The first time I yelled, I was actually amazed. It got
the kids attention and they responded. It seemed to work. However, in the end, it did not.
Here is why:
First: I noticed the kids become desensitized to yelling very fast. I soon had to yell louder and
louder to gain their attention. Not only was yelling losing its effects quickly, but I also noticed
that my kids started yelling more. By yelling too much, I was teaching my children that when
you are frustrated or mad about something, yelling is the appropriate way to handle it.
Second: Think about a time when somebody yelled at you? Did you
hear what the person was actually saying? Or were you more focused on the fact that somebody
was yelling at you, and that you "did not like it". Point: Nobody takes in information well if it
is done in a loud, over-reactive style. Most likely, when you are yelling, your child is not focused
at all on what you are saying, but rather the loudness/scary factor.
Trying to change to many behaviors at the same time:
Young kids just don't always have the recall yet to remember all the things that "they
are not supposed to do".
Behavior charts are a great tool, however, keep them simple. One or two goals with one or two
rewards. Behavior charts never worked well for me because I made them to complicated: too many
behavior changes, too many reward options....keep it simple. The kids could not understand it, so
how could they be engaged.
NEVER TAKE AWAY A REWARD THAT THEY HAVE EARNED.
I did this, and my kids, after having hard earned rewards taken away too many times they gave
up...they knew that they were going to screw up, being that they were 6yr. olds...so why bother.
To fix their thwarted enthusiasm, we had a family meeting and agreed that earned rewards can not
be taken away.
Inappropriate consequences - Consequences that you can't/won't follow thru on
Example: It's 3pm. your three year old has just sent you over the edge. You say,
"Susie, if you take your brothers toy away from him one more time, you are going to go to your
room for the rest of the night". (Susie's normal bedtime is 7:30). Mom: really? You are
going to send her to her room for the rest of the night, no dinner, nothing, banished to her room.
That's a tough one to follow thru on and easy to cave on. And, if you cave, you have just
taught Susie that consequences don't have to be taken seriously.
Now I need to qualify my stance on that: Do I believe that their is a time and a place for a very
firm consequence? Of course. But choose them wisely. Save the biggies for the lines that really
need to be drawn in the sand. Otherwise, like yelling, overdone consequences, punishments that
don't fit the crime will lose their effect.
Choose Your Words Wisely:
Picking consequences that are overkill or are not followed through on I think are the most
common mistakes we can make as parents. I have learned to really think seriously about the
consequences I am willing to dole out. Are they fair? Does it fit the crime? Is it a reasonable
one that I as a parent can follow thru on? EX: How many times have I heard a parent say (myself
included) to a child, "If you don't stop right now, we are going home!" okay, if you are at the park
that sounds reasonable....but said at an amusement park that you just paid $100.00 to enter...I
highly doubt you are going to "follow through" on this one. Let's face it...so does the kid.
Use your words wisely
Don't over talk. Dad's are better at this. I was terrible in this area. I talked too much about the
issue/behavior. I went on and on, (like my mom did) about the dreaded offense. What they did,
how could they? What were you thinking? Do you know what could have happened? UGH.
My come to Jesus meetings bounced right off of them ended up somewhere....definately not in
there heads...well, as least Jesus was possibly impressed. I talked to much. Too many words, too
little retention. Now I keep it simple...much like I talk to my husband. Sorry hubby.
Part 2 will include what worked.
Have a goodnight, 'QAnnie47