Positively Transforming Your Kids’ Behavior Through Shaping
by Kathy Slattengren, M. Ed., Priceless Parenting (more parenting articles are available)
Are there any of your kids’ behaviors that you would like to change? Perhaps you feel frustrated that your child won’t practice the piano without being nagged, doesn’t listen the first time, or is super slow in getting ready for school. By the time you are really bothered by a behavior, your child is probably well entrenched in behaving this way.
You may have resorted to yelling, threatening and taking away privileges to try to improve your child’s behavior. While that may have worked one day, you probably found you needed to yell louder, come up with bigger threats or take away more privileges to get your child to behave again.
What Researchers Have Discovered About Punishment
By the time frustrated parents turn to Dr. Alan Kazdin at the Yale Parenting Center they are at their wits end! He tells them
what he’s learned from the research
“Punishment - mild, severe, abusive - changes behavior only at the moment it is delivered. It doesn't change the overall level or rate of the behavior. So if you have a child who's doing something horrible and you smack them, it'll stop it for the moment but it won't decrease the number of times they do the horrible thing.
So there's an alternative. Decide what behavior you want, sometimes called the positive opposite, and praise or encourage that. That makes the negative behavior drop out. You can actually eliminate a behavior by rewarding or praising the opposite behavior. Punishment won't do it.”