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Behavior 201, for Parents

Have you ever had this
experience?  Your child does some bad thing, in public or in front
of relatives of course, and someone gives you the “evil eye” and says
“Aren’t you going to do something about that?  Are you going to just
let her/him get away with it?!”

Aside from the judging,
unhelpful nature of the comment, what’s interesting about that to me is
that it highlights what I call an “old paradigm” of parenting.  The
best way to shape a child’s behavior doesn’t happen after they’ve done
something WRONG–it happens before & after they do something RIGHT.

We the parents truly need to plan ahead, identify the positive
behaviors we want to see more of, and work consistently to support, recognize
& reward our kids when they show us THOSE behaviors–not the bad

The ideas above, although not new, are newly presented
in my current favorite parenting book.  At this point it would make
sense to tell you the name of the book, but I’m not, because I think
the book title is misleading.  It should have been named “Parenting
101” or “What Every Parent Needs to Know About Shaping Behavior”, or “What
Science Tells Us about Parenting” (since the book’s methods are proven
to work, based on results from many, many different studies by many
different professional researchers.)  

But alas, they didn’t ask
my opinion about the name, so I’ve just had to make up my own:
“Behavior 201 for Parents”.  Anyway, I’m currently leading a book group
on it, and plan to start another one in April.   If you’re
interested in joining the book group, stay tuned, I’ll send out more
info shortly.

(PS.  Follow the link if you want more info on the book, or to know its real title.)  ;^)

5 Comments on “Behavior 201, for Parents

  1. Katie,
    Yes, this is a positively wonderful book! It has changed how I parent. It has changed how I interact with my kids. It has changed my attitude toward discipline altogether. Because I am looking for the good behavior to shape my children into the people I know they can be, my relationship has become so much sweeter and loving.
    To anyone reading this post, I would say: Read this quick-read book. What have you got to lose? I promise you won’t regret it!!!

  2. Oh, but I almost forgot to ask.
    Okay, so what do we do about ol’ “Stink-eye”?
    I know, I know… Just ignore them.
    But that isn’t very gratifying, is it?
    I was really looking for permission from you saying we could cover them in honey and feed them to fire ants, but alas…

  3. This is indeed a great book!
    I have also seen a change in my son’s behavior since making simple steps to acknowledge what he’s doing RIGHT, not constantly nagging as I felt like I was doing before.
    The book also really lends itself to discussion, so I think it’s a great idea to add a book group on this book to the services you provide!

  4. Clare, no, I can’t say that fire ants are my recommended response. ;^) Ignoring would probably be a good choice, or a reflective comment like “Yeah, that [specific behavior] is annoying, huh.”
    Interestingly, as I re-read my post, I realize that I didn’t say anything about what I **would** say to the kid in the moment. Depending on the severity of his behavior, it can be very appropriate to have some sort of response–my point was just that that response isn’t going to be the most effective tool for shaping future behavior.

  5. Interesting story for you. Curious about your opinion.
    I was present when a mother was having a talk with her son about his behavior when he called her a decidedly bad name. The room fell silent. I watched in amazement as the mother never lost eye contact with her son, ignored the word and kept on topic of what she was saying. Having read this book, I think she probably did the best thing, which was brave. Most mother’s might cave to the adult peer pressure to scold for using the bad word. Her son used that word just to get a rise out of his mother and she didn’t even flinch. No response, no power. What could have been really ugly, wasn’t. She kept on talking to him and praising him for the more appropriate parts of his communication. Hope I have that much pluck in similar situations.
    As for the non-endorsement of The Fire Ant Treatment, hmmmm…. Reflect back to the stinky-eyed one, right? Don’t know if I have that much self-control. My natural instinct is to either ignore such people or “go mother bear” on them (the latter instinct is not something I’m the least bit proud of). I don’t think reflecting back to such people would have much effect on their future decision making. That is, people who think they’re entitled to judge others’ parenting don’t tend to give up that hobby for lent. I’d better work on my ignoring skills….