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Shape Children's Behavior


Discussions on "Shape Children's Behavior" in "Preschooler" forum.


  1. #1
    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Shape Children's Behavior

    Shaping means providing the child with cues and reinforcements that direct them toward desirable behavior. As you shape behavior, the child's personality tags along and also changes and improves.

    The main ways to shape a child's behavior are through:



    • praise
    • selective ignoring
    • time-out
    • consequences
    • motivators
    • reminders
    • negotiation
    • withdrawing privileges
    • humor


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  2. #2
    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    1. PRAISE


    Praise is a valuable shaper; children want to please you and keep your approval. Yet, you can easily overdo it. Praise the behavior, not the person. Praises like "good girl" or "good boy" risk misinterpretation and are best reserved for training pets. These labels are too heavy for some children. ("If I don't do well, does that mean I'm bad?") Better is: "You did a good job cleaning your room." "That's a good decision." "I like the way you used lots of color in this picture." The child will see that the praise is sincere since you made the effort to be specific; it shows that you're paying attention. For quickies try "Great job!" or "Way to go!" or even "Yesss!" To avoid the "I'm valued by my performance" trap, acknowledge the act and let the child conclude the act is praiseworthy. If you praise every other move the child makes he will either get addicted to praise, or wonders why you are so desperate to make him feel good about himself. Be realistic. You don't have to praise, or even acknowledge, things he just does for the joy of it, for his own reasons.
    Shaping through praise works well if you have a specific behavior goal that you want to reach, for example, stopping whining. Initially, you may feel like you are acknowledging nearly every pleasant sound your child makes ("I like your sweet voice"). Eventually, as the whining subsides, the immediate need for praise lessens (of course, a booster shot is needed for relapses) and you move on to shaping another behavior.


  3. #3
    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    Change praises



    To keep your child's attention, change the delivery of your accolades. As you pass by the open door of the cleaner room, say: "Good job!" Show with body language a thumbs-up signal for the child who dresses herself. Written praises are a boon in large families. They show extra care. Private praises help, too. Leave little "nice work" notes on pillows, yellow "post-its" on homework, messages that convey that you noticed and that you are pleased. Children need praise, but don't overdo it. You don't want a child to look around for applause whenever she lifts a finger, like a dog expecting a cookie every time he does a trick.


    Praise genuinely


    Praise loses its punch if you shower acclaim on usual and expected behavior; yet when the child who habitually strikes out finally hits the ball, that's praiseworthy. Simply acknowledge expected behavior, rather than gushing praise.


    Use the art of complimenting


    Teach your child to be comfortable giving and receiving compliments. Tell your child, "What a handsome boy you are" or "How pretty you look in that dress!" Eye and body contact during your delivery reinforces the sincerity of your acknowledgment. Make sure you're sincere. When you hear your children complimenting one another, compliment yourself for your modeling.


    While appropriately-used praise can shape behavior, it's not the only way to reinforce good behavior. In some ways it's superficial. Praise is an external motivator. The ultimate goal of discipline is self-discipline—inner motivation. We praise good grades and have always motivated our children by planting the idea that good grades are one ticket to success.


  4. #4
    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    2. SELECTIVE IGNORING


    To preserve parental sanity, in our large family we run a tight ship in certain situations. In other areas we are more lax. We have learned to ignore smallies and concentrate on biggies. A smallie is a behavior which is annoying but doesn't harm humans, animals, or property, or which even if uncorrected does not lead to a biggie. These childish irresponsibility's will self-correct with time and maturity.

    Ignoring helps your child respect the limits of a parent's job description (e.g., "I don't do petty arguments"). One day two five-year-olds were playing in our front yard, and they got into a toy squabble. No one was getting hurt. They tried to drag Martha into the ring. She simply said, "You kids are too big to act like this. That's such a silly little toy to get upset about. I'm not even going to waste my time getting involved." She walked away. The kids got the point and settled the problem themselves.
    Ignoring undesirable behaviors works best if you readily acknowledge desirable ones. The ignored interrupter learns to enter adult conversations with "excuse me" once you reinforce the use of these polite addresses. Ignore the misbehavior, not the child.

    Harmless behaviors fade both as your tolerance level widens and your reactions don't reinforce the child's behavior. It's helpful to gain practice in selective ignoring in the early years of a child's life to prepare you for the challenges yet to come—accepting teenagers with their unconventional dress and hairstyles, loud music, and moody behaviors.


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    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    3. HELP YOUR CHILD LEARN THAT CHOICES HAVE CONSEQUENCES

    Experiencing the consequences of their choices is one of the most effective ways children can learn self-discipline. These lessons really last because they come from real life. Most success in life depends on making wise choices. Being able to think ahead about the positive or negative consequences of an action and choose accordingly is a skill we want our children to learn.

    Building a child's natural immunity to bad choices


    Letting natural consequences teach your child to make right choices is a powerful learning tool. Experience is the best teacher: He's careless, he falls; he grabs something hot, he gets burned; he leaves his bicycle in the driveway, it gets stolen. Wise parents protect their children so they don't get seriously hurt, but do not overprotect to the extent the child doesn't learn the consequences of his folly. Some bruises and scrapes along the way are unavoidable and educational.Children make unwise choices on the way to becoming responsible adults. Children must experience the consequences of their actions in order to learn from them. Within reason and safe limits, let your infant explore, fail, bump, and learn. Expect your preschooler to help clean up his messes. Let your school-age child experience the penalty for not completing homework by bedtime. After years of small inoculations of consequences, the child enters adolescence at least partially immunized against bad choices, having had some genuine experience with decision-making. Children learn better from their own mistakes than from your preventive preaching.


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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    Use logical consequences to correct


    Besides letting natural consequences teach your child, you can set up parent-made consequences tailored to have lasting learning value for your child.

    Here's a logical consequence that parents in our practice tried: "Our son was four-years-old, and we had just moved into a new house. He had gotten a new bedroom set and was feeling very proud and grown up, enjoying his privacy and playing with his friends. When it was time for his friends to leave, and our son became angry and kept slamming the door. I asked him to stop and explained patiently why he shouldn't keep slamming the door. I told him (after thirty minutes) that if this behavior continued, he would no longer enjoy the privacy of a door: "Brett, if you keep slamming the door, I'm going to take it off. (He got this "Yeah, sure, dad's going to take the door off" look of disbelief on his face). For the next three days every time he got a little upset, he slammed the door. So on the fourth day our son went out to play, and when he returned he found his door had been removed from the hinges. But he only noticed it when he went to slam it and it was not there. A week later we put it back. Four years have passed, and he hasn't slammed the door since."

    Our then ten-year-old, Erin, treasured her new bike, but now and then she would carelessly leave it overnight on the front sidewalk. We kept reminding her to put her bike in the garage at the end of the day so it wouldn't get stolen, but she still often forgot. So one day we hid the bike. When she got up the next morning, there was no bike. "Perhaps it got stolen?" we offered. Erin was heartbroken; she had already had one bike stolen because she left it out. We gave her time to work through her feelings of loss, guilt, remorse, anger—all the emotions that one has when you blow it and it's your fault. Then we rescued the bike, and Erin. She realized this loss could have been real, and the bike slept safely in the garage thereafter.


    For the most learning value, balance negative with positive consequences: The child who frequently practices the piano gets the thrill of moving through his books quickly and receiving hearty applause at his recital. The child who consistently takes care of her bicycle merits a new one when she outgrows it; otherwise, she gets a used one. The child who puts his sports equipment away in the same place each time gets the nice feeling of always being able to find his favorite bat or soccer ball.


    In these examples, no amount of punishment could have had the lasting teaching value of natural and logical consequences. With punishment, children see no connection between their behavior and the discipline. With consequences, the child makes the connection between the behavior and the results. You plant a lesson of life: take responsibility for your behavior.


  7. #7
    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    4. MOTIVATORS AND REWARDS

    Children and adults behave according to the pleasure principle: behavior that's rewarding continues, behavior that's unrewarding ceases. While you don't have to go to the extreme of playing behavioral scientist, dangling cheese in front of little rats to direct them through the maze, you can invent creative ways to motivate desirable behavior with rewards. Motivators help family life run more smoothly: "First one in bed picks the story."

    A word of caution

    Prizes are a way to entice your child toward goals you've made for him. The ultimate goal is self-discipline – a child behaves because she wants to or because she knows you expect good behavior. She shouldn't expect a prize each time she behaves well. A friend who home-schooled her child until he was eight found that when he entered school as an already a strong reader who was motivated by the pleasure he found in reading, the reward system for reading used by the teacher was not appropriate for him. He made out like a bandit. Slowly his motivation shifted from reading for pleasure to reading for prizes. Ideally, a job well done like reading and finishing a book should be its own reward. Some children may need rewards to get them to read in the first place, but you run the risk that these children will never read for pleasure.
    Still, kids are human, and humans go for that chunk of cheese. You do a job well partly because of the rewards you expect to get. If "rewards" or "bribes" offend the moralist in you, call them "motivators." An attachment-parented child is more likely to be motivated by social rewards than by prizes: "This coupon is good for one lunch date with Mommy or Daddy."

    To work, a reward must be something your child likes and truly desires. Ask some leading questions to get ideas:


    • "If you could do some special things with mom or dad, what would they be?"
    • "If you could go somewhere with a friend, where would you like to go?
    • "If you had a dollar, what would you buy?"


    Granting privileges and rewards are discipline tools to set limits and get jobs done. "If you hurry and do a good job cleaning your room, you might get finished in time to play outside before dinner.




  8. #8
    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    Rewards that work


    The best rewards are ones that are natural consequences of good behavior: "You're taking such good care of your train set. Let's go to the train store and get another boxcar." The natural consequences of good behavior are not always motivating enough in themselves. Sometimes it's necessary to fabricate a reward.

    Reward charts

    Charts are a helpful way to motivate young children. They see their progress and participate in the daily steps toward the reward. The chart stands out as a testimony of good behavior for all to see. Charts work because they are interactive and fun. Even the business world uses charts as profit motivators. Throughout life many children will be surrounded by performance charts, so they may as well get used to seeing them in their home. When nothing else seems to be working, behavior charts help a child get over the hump of extinguishing an undesirable behavior. As you weed out undesirable behaviors one by one, your child gradually gets used to the feelings that come with good behavior, and these feelings become self-motivating. The need for charting lessens as your child grows, and you will need to find new clutter for your kitchen wall. In making reward charts, consider these tips:


    • Follow the basic rule: KISMIF – Keep it simple, make it fun.
    • Work with your child. Let your child help construct the chart and make daily entries.
    • Construct the chart so that the child has a visual image of closing in on the reward. We have gotten best results from a "connect the dots" chart. Have the child draw a picture of what she wants. Then outline the periphery of the picture with dots several inches apart. With each day of successful behavior (e.g., each time he remembers to take out the trash) the child connects another dot. When all the dots are connected, the child collects the prize.
    • Display the chart in a high visibility location. (We strategically place ours on the wall along the path between the kitchen table and the refrigerator.) Giving the chart a high profile and high visibility gives the child easy access, serves as a frequent reminder of the desired behavior, and lets her proudly exhibit her progress.
    • Make the chart interactive: connecting dots, pasting on stickers or different colored stars, anything more interesting than a check mark.
    • Charts can contain positive and negative entries, reminders of both types of behaviors. In my office we use daily charts to correct bedwetting in children older than five. The child puts a happy face sticker on the chart every morning he wakes up dry and a sad face sticker on the chart on mornings he wakes up wet. If the happy faces outnumber the sad faces at the end of the week, the child gets to choose where he wants to go for lunch on Saturday.
    • Keep the time until the prize is collected short. Frequent, simple rewards keep motivation high. For a toddler, use end-of-the-hour rewards; for the preschooler, end-of-the-day rewards; for the school-age child, end-of-the- week rewards. A month is an unreachable eternity for any child. For the preschool child, rather than set a calendar time, refer to an event such as "dinner time" or "after Sunday school." Novelty wears off quickly for children. Change charts frequently.





  9. #9
    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    5. REMINDERS


    "But I forgot." "But I didn't know I was supposed to." As lame as these excuses sound to adults, children do honestly forget and need reminders to keep their behavior on track.Reminders are cues that jog the hazy memory of a busy child. They may be subtle prompts in the form of a look that tells the about-to-be-mischievous child, "You know better," or a short verbal cue that turns on the child's memory: "Ah! Where does that plate belong?" Some situations call for a major reminder and follow through that rings the child's memory bell loud and clear: "Remember what we've said about running in the street! A car could hit you! You have to look both ways!".

    Reminders are less likely to provoke a refusal or a power struggle than are outright commands. You have already painted the scene in your child's mind, he knows what you expect, and he has previously agreed to it. Reminders prompt a child to complete a behavior equation on her own. You give a clue and the child fills in the blanks. You stand over a pile of homework sprawled on the floor, then scowl disapprovingly. He gets the message and picks up the homework without you even saying a word.


    Last edited by divyakannan; 30th Aug 2012 at 05:31 PM.

  10. #10
    divyakannan is offline Friends's of Penmai
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    Re: Shape Children's Behavior

    6. THE ART OF NEGOTIATING


    Bargaining with your child doesn't compromise your authority. It strengthens it. Children respect parents who are willing to listen to them. Until they leave home, children must accept your authority— that's not negotiable; but that doesn't mean you can't listen to their side of things.

    Negotiating is a win-win situation that benefits both parents and children. Parents show that they are approachable and open to another's viewpoint—a quality children become more sensitive about as they approach adolescence. In teen years you will find that negotiating becomes your main behavior management tool, because adolescents like to be treated as intellectual equals and expect you to respect their viewpoint. If used wisely, negotiating improves communication between parent and child. A stubborn insistence on having your own way has the opposite effect. "I just can't talk to my dad," said Jessica, a teenager whose father's attitude was "Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up." Even the wishes of a seven or eight-year-old should be open to negotiation. This is a warm-up time to help you sharpen your negotiating skills for the years ahead.

    "Why do I have to go to bed at 9 o'clock?" argued ten-year-old Margo."What time do you think is a good bedtime for you?" asked Father Negotiator."Ten o'clock," Margo suggested."That extra hour means a lot to you doesn't it? What would you do during that extra hour?""I could read," Margo pleaded."Remember how tired you are the next morning when you stay up late. You fall asleep at school," Father reminded her."But that was last year, dad. I'm older now," Margo countered."Yes, I guess you are. Let's try this," Father suggested. "On school nights you must be in bed at nine o'clock and you can read in bed until 9:30. On nights when you don't have school the next day you can stay up until ten o'clock."

    The child thought this was acceptable, and her reasoning was validated. The father achieved his goal being sure his child got enough sleep. He knew that after five minutes of reading in bed she would probably fall asleep, which she did. As this volley went back and forth, the father was earning points with his child. The child was getting the message that "I can talk to my dad. He is reasonable, and he really does care about what's good for me. My father listens, and he has some wise things to say."

    Sometimes let your child take the lead. Use a well-known negotiating tool: Meet the child where he is, and then bring him to where you want him to be. For example, you want your child to sit and read a book with you, but he's intent on wrestling as evidenced by his grabbing your arm and showing signs that he wants physical play. Let him spend a bit of energy rough-housing on the floor. Tire him out enough so that he can then sit still and read the book. This is not giving into the child or letting the child be in control, it's simply being a smart negotiator. It's a way to bring your child back to your agenda after a short excursion that satisfies the needs of his agenda.


    Last edited by divyakannan; 30th Aug 2012 at 05:30 PM.

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