Are you frustrated that no matter what, your child still disobeys you? In order to understand your child’s bad behavior, you first need to take a look at yourself. Do you find that you’re giving your child more of your attention for bad behavior than for good behavior? If you believe the bad behavior is getting most of your attention, this might be part of the problem. According to Dr. Alan Kazdin of the Yale University Child Conduct Clinic and Parenting Center, giving a child attention for bad behavior will result in an increase in bad behavior by the child, and attention given to a child for good behavior will result in an increase of good behavior. If you keep this theory in mind, you can most likely end your child’s persistent disobedience. Perhaps the following tips will get you started on eliminating your child’s persistent disobedient behavior.
Tip #1: Recognize and Reward Good Behavior
First of all, you should notice when your child is behaving well and let the child know how much you like it. Not only tell the child that you have observed the good behavior, but also how wonderful he or she was. A big hug or a high five will certainly encourage the good behavior to happen more often.
The general idea is to give positive attention to good behavior. It can be just a simple touch, smile or praise or all three. However, you must do it immediately after the child used good behavior, and you must be sure to tell the child specifically what he or she did that was so good each and every time. For instance, you could say, “You did such a nice job with your homework today!” Remember, recognition for good behavior brings more good behavior.
Tip #2: Ask the Child to do the “Positive Opposite” of the Bad Behavior
When you see bad behavior, try not to say “stop” or “don’t.” Instead, decide the behavior you want the child to do that is a “positive opposite” of the child’s bad behavior. The Kazdin Method based on what he calls the “positive opposite” of the bad or unwanted behavior requires you to not only define the desirable behavior but to also provide opportunities for your child to practice it repeatedly. For instance, if when the child returns home from school the child drops his or her coat on the floor, don’t say, “Don’t drop your coat on the floor.” Instead, say, “Please hang your coat in the closet.” If he or she does it, remember to praise enthusiastically. “Fantastic, you did what I asked already! You hung up your coat in the closet,” you might say. You may still find it necessary to say “don’t” or “stop” at times, but if you praise the “positive opposite,” you will find you are saying negatives less and less. Above all, let the child see how happy you are with his or her good behavior heartily.
Tip #3: Try a Reward System
A game based on a reward system could bring surprising results. Explain the game to the child when things are calm and quiet. Demonstrate the way to earn a reward by giving the child a pretend request. For example, put a plate on the table and say, “Please put this dinner plate in the sink.” If the child does put the plate in the sink the first time you ask, give him or her praise and a reward point. If the child doesn’t do it the first time you ask, say, “I guess you’re not ready to put the plate in the sink at this time, so you don’t get a point. Perhaps you’ll be ready later,” but don’t give the child a point. If the child does put the plate in the sink later, give him or her lots of praise, but don’t give the child a point. The idea is that you want the child to do what you ask the first time.
Show the child the rewards he or she can earn through this game of points by doing what you ask the first time without complaining. The rewards can be things you know the child really wants.
Tip #4: Ignore Bad Behavior
Consider the fact that scolding, spanking and yelling is a form of attention that you are giving your child and that attention for bad behavior will increase the bad behavior. It’s often best to ignore bad behavior as much as you can. Obviously, if the child is doing something serious like hurting their sibling or is about to break something, punishment could be needed, but a general focus on positive over negative, as explained earlier, could shift your child’s focus on getting attention through acts of good, rather than mischief.
It certainly is a good idea for you to try The Kazdin Method in order to put an end to your child’s persistent disobedient behavior. For further information on the Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child, refer to this report seen on the Good Morning America TV show. If your child is persistently disobedient and disrespectful despite your best efforts, they might benefit from a behavioral treatment or correction center such as Lifeline; however, most children are just hungry for attention, and if you can teach them the best way to receive attention is through obeying and trusting you, your family’s life will be much more peaceful.