Parenting can often be challenging. You want to be effective in influencing your children’s behaviour in a way that is good for them and for you. You want them to grow up to be mature, secure, responsible adults. You don’t want to unintentionally hurt them with your anger, and you don’t want to put up with unacceptable behaviour.
Below is a very simple method that works. It has been researched and found to be very effective, even with teens in a juvenile delinquent center, some of whom were on medication. So with younger or less difficult behaviour, you can expect even better results.
It is based on the very simple concept of building your children’s self-esteem by giving them lots of positive energy, and using consequences delivered without anger or long lectures for negative behaviour, as well as rewards for positive behaviour. I am definitely not promoting video games, but think of how a video game treats a child: constant encouragement and cheerleading music and rewards etc. , but then when he messes up, it’s “game over”, without any anger, lectures, or second chances. The child feels fairly treated, his self-esteem is not harmed, and the game is liked. With this simple method of parenting, the child only gets positive or neutral (which is positive) attention without the anger, causing an improvement in his/her self-esteem. This has a positive effect on behaviour. And the consequences also improve behaviour. Parents often get angry because they feel powerless over changing their children’s behaviour eg having them do their chores. It is important to choose rewards and consequences that are expected to work, and it is good to involve the child in the decision of what rewards and consequences there will be. It is best, but not always essential, if they are set ahead of time; then there are no surprises when they are administered. It is also good to keep things simple; too elaborate or cumbersome a system is less likely to continue to be consistently used over time. Trying to have the consequences make some sense is a good idea, but again is not essential. For example, an undone chore that the mother then had to do can be compensated for by the child having to do another chore that is normally the mother’s. An older child who has ruined something because of misuse may have to replace it, and so forth.
This method is useful with very young children right through to adult children. In fact, because as humans we have a tendency to often give negative energy to the negative, and take the positive for granted, it is a good way to approach ourselves, and our other relationships, looking for things to acknowledge, appreciate, be grateful for, and be proud of. As with the children, it is important to be specific and genuine. Initially, it takes concerted effort to be constantly looking for positive things to comment on or, in the case of one’s self, think about. After a while, it becomes a new way of being that feels good for you and those around you. When something negative is decreasing, this is something worthy of and useful to acknowledge and appreciate, because it is a positive change. Doing so will help things to continue to improve. This is called shaping.
I recommend the book “Transforming the Difficult Child” by Howard Glasser, where he describes the method in much more detail. I do not like the title, and recommend that you cover the book covers to protect your child from it. However, the book itself is excellent. It is very easy to read, and he gives a lot of real-life examples. He also talks about the research findings using this approach.