Increasing Positive Behaviors (Kazdin, 2005)
When interacting with your child when he/she is being difficult, it is challenging to focus on positive behaviors and to talk positively to them. However, it is important to word things positively in order to increase the positive behaviors, which are the behaviors that you desire. Have you ever told your child to stop fighting, only to have he or she then stomp away and slam doors? This can then become a cycle of you telling your child not to slam the door and then him/her reacting with another undesirable behavior. Instead of engaging in this cycle with your child, try stepping out of it by stating positive, desirable behaviors. To change any difficult behavior, it is necessary to increase the positive opposite (desirable) behavior rather than punish the negative behavior.
Increasing Positive Behaviors
If your child is fighting, how would you increase the positive opposite (desirable) behavior? You obviously would want them to no longer fight, but think about what that would mean. It would most likely involve interacting with others nicely, playing cooperatively, and sharing. Therefore, if you encounter your child fighting, try saying “Please talk nicely and share your toys with Johnny.” Statements such as these are worded positively and have a clear definition of what you would rather them doing. It is especially important to not word these negatively, such as “Do not fight. Do not be mean.” For each behavior you do not want, it is important to have a clear definition in your mind of what you want to have your child do instead.
This article is part of an online course, offered by 7 Cups, on parenting.
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