Gary Direnfeld is a child-behaviour expert, a social worker, and the author of Raising Kids Without Raising Cane. Gary provides insight on issues ranging from child behaviour management and development; to family life; to socially responsible business development. Courts in Ontario, Canada consider Gary an expert on matters pertaining to child development, custody and
access, family/marital therapy and social work.
Don't just check your child when he's being naughty. Catch him when he's behaving well, and praise him for it.
The day starts with mom yelling at Aryan to stop running in the kitchen. In the afternoon, she yells at him to finish off his lunch. After
lunch, she slaps him for jumping on the sofas with his dirty shoes.
Now, as Aryan is throwing his toys about his bedroom and taking his car
apart, mom is about to lose it with him…
parents of young children are constantly yelling at them, because they
do not know how else to get them to pay attention. Research shows that
yelling and spanking often creates new problems. Children who are
continually shouted at or spanked tend to be more aggressive in the
playground, have less developed problem-solving skills and lower
self-esteem. In addition, they are so used to your yelling that they
will not pay attention to anything you say, unless you yell at them!
when parents use other skills for gaining compliance and co-operation,
children tend to be better adjusted, play more co-operatively and
respond better to their parents' words.
Here's how it works:
there are two dogs inside your home - one good and the other bad. Now
imagine they are fighting constantly. Which one will win the fight? The
one you feed! Why? Because you are strengthening it!
Feed the positive
behaviour works the same way. Feed the negative and you will increase
this behaviour. Feed the positive and you will see more positive
behaviour. And the food of behaviour is your attention.
many parents focus on catching children when they are misbehaving.
Every time they yell 'Stop it!' they are feeding the wrong dog. This
has got to change. The main focus must not be on catching misbehaviour.
The focus must be on catching children doing things right.
now mom tries something different. As Aryan is running she tells him to
stop running and to play quietly with his Lego set, in the family room.
As Aryan is playing quietly, mom goes over to him and simply mentions
how nicely he is playing. Aryan continues to play quietly and several
minutes later, mom goes to him and mentions it again. They smile at
each other and mom gives Aryan a hug.
truth of the matter is that Aryan was actually a good listener and had
always been a good listener. Every time mom told him to stop doing
something, he stopped, and started doing something else. The problem
is, mom never really told him what to do.
We cannot assume that children will automatically know what to do when we tell them what not
to do. Tell your child directly what you expect and follow it up with
feedback when they do it. Feedback is how you give attention to feed
For feedback, all you have to do is mention the very behaviour the child is doing. You are playing quietly. You ate your broccoli. You shared your toy. If you forget to mention it as the behaviour is occurring, mention it later, at bedtime. You put the crayons away this afternoon, all by yourself!
key is not to withhold feedback, but to provide it for appropriate
behaviour. Whenever you see your child doing something you would like
to see repeated, provide feedback.
Remember, catch a kid doing good, and tell them! You'll both be glad you did.