We have started a series called “A Few of Our Favorite Things.” This Series will focus on a wide range of topics, though are ones we discuss often in therapy sessions. This first post is about parenting. There are a lot of great articles and theories out there. Make sure you follow and listen to what feels right to you and your family.
In my years working with families, parents frequently ask about what skills they can use to help manage unwanted behavior with their children. The ideas reflected in this series is by no means exclusive or comprehensive, rather simply skills that I have found to have great success with in therapy, and parents have found helpful.
Having time-in with your kids:
Time-outs only work if the kids also get time-in with their parents. Kids thrive on attention and reinforcement from parents. However, we all know the saying that negative attention is still attention. This applies to kids as well. Sometimes, the case maybe that if a child is seeking attention, and previous attempts have gone unnoticed, they will purposefully do something to get in trouble in order to get your attention turned toward them. If this is the case, then getting put in time out by the caregiver reinforces the unwanted behavior and only increases the chances that it will happen again. So what to do? Make sure to reinforce the behaviors you want to see and praise them for their efforts. Chances are, once they get the attention and praise from you, they will try to get more of it.
Parents are very busy these days often pulled in different directions. Working with parents of a young energetic boy, the parents felt frustrated that it seemed all their interactions recently with their child were only to punish him and put him in time out. This was a negative cycle that was very upsetting, not only for the parents but the child as well. In session we focused on the behaviors the parents wanted to see from him. They easily listed wonderful, positive things the child did each day. However what was missing was the reinforcement for these behaviors. Quickly the child had learned that if he wanted to get the attention of his busy parents he needed to do something that he was not supposed to, and bingo his parents had turned their attention toward him, though not in a positive way. Once we discovered this it was an easy fix. The parents praised the child for the behavior they desired and withdrew attention when he was doing something he was not supposed to be doing. It only took a couple of days for this loving family to get back on track and break the negative cycle they had found themselves in.