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Treats for positive reinforcement

Posted by rob333 (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 27, 08 at 12:55

I'd like to come up with new things. I alternate with a fun food item, sticker, extra time on his Nintendo DS, mazes, word finds... Sometimes, if it's a really important goal, I'll give loads of little ones (little toys and stickers, his choice out of the bucket), and when the big goal is accomplished (for instance an entire school week of working at something, and he was able to do it 4 out of 5 days), an additional big treat, e.g. rock climbing for a day.

What do you use?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

Praise is really the only acceptable positive reinforcement to use with a child....anything else is a bribe.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

It's a really good thing he hears good words from me on an on-going basis, or I might be insulted.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

You're already way over the top compared to my house, so I got nothin' new for you. I very rarely reward my kids with material things for goals met or jobs done. I won't say never, but not often enough that they have any expectations. So don't tell my kids what you're doing, they don't need any ideas, they already think I'm mean enough. ;o)

I like the extra time/experience rewards. Earning video/TV time with work is reasonable to me. But other than that, I have to agree with Lindac, praise is really sufficient for behavior/goals/work accomplished. And if you're doing that, I don't think you need to "up the ante" with new prizes. JMO, it's a slippery slope. Time with YOU should not be conditional, it's a given.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

This question might've been better prefaced with the fact that I'd like to extinguish a new bad behavior. Not normal ongoing behavior. I just finished lunch with those who found it obscure to say never offering a reward was right. That said, maybe more information might help understanding. When a child comes up with a new undesirable behavior and just plain talking/explaining doesn't change it, changing the pattern is what needs to happen. The first stage is, smaller goals to the big goal. Then back off to praising only. Once it's extinguished, it just doesn't even get noticed again. I'm not talking about teens, or otherwise already grown kids. I'm talking about under the age of 10 and reasoning isn't fully developed. I hope this dispels any misconceptions.

Let's put an out an example so that others might learn something. Your 3 year old daughter decides throwing towels in the toilet is her new favorite thing to do. First time through, you completely ignore it. She keeps doing it to see the pretty swirl. Next, you explain to her it is necessary to keep the towels dry so that they can be used in the manner we need for them to do it. She still doesn't quit. Wilful child that she is, it's just too much fun for her. Last resort. You tell her she can have a sticker for keeping her hands to herself, picking up the towels, or whatever positive spin you can to get her to quit. She gets the sticker. Three stickers and she can play with her barbie for an hour. Whatever you decide. Every time she walks past the toilet and doesn't throw the towel in, you say, "Wow, what a great job of taking care of the towel!" and give her that sticker. This goes on for a week or so. The comments continue on for the next week, if she looks at the toilet and moves on without relapsing to the undesirable behavior.

Make sense? No ante upping. Time with me is never conditional (wow, that sounded judgemental, but I bet you meant it as reinforcement).

So what did you do when you came across something your child just would not quit doing Stephanie?


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I find it extremelly difficult to maintain any kind of reward system with children. If you reward her with playing wiht her Barbie, I assume she is not normally allowed to play with it or you keep it locked? Otherwise it does not sound like a reward, just a normal thing. And if she continues throwing the towel, then she does not get to play wiht her Barbie? For reward to make sense it has to be something that your child cannot normally have but what could that be?

applied behavior system could work with older children (maybe) but not wiht such a young child. If she wants to throw somehting in the water to see swirls i would replace her towel with somehting that could make swirls in a bath tub maybe. Just find somehting else for her to do.

She won't be 3 forever.

I would relax and not worry about rewards too much. When reasoning is not developed yet, all you could do is praise and redirect. And let kids be kids.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

Yes, it would have to be something they normally don't get to play with or do when extinguising undesirable behavior. I don't have a daughter and it's not an actual situation in my home. I find it incredibily interesting everyone is sidestepping the hard situations (or won't admit that it ever happened to them. Or just haven't ponied up yet. I'll be looking for those answers). We're not talking about day-to-day, ordinary, normal behavior issues. It's the extraordinary situations which we're delving into here, if you please.

How did you do it finedreams when redirecting and reasoning didn't work for your child(ren)?


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I do believe in rewards or treats for positive reinforcement. I'm sure it's a controversial subject and everyone will have differing opinions on where to draw the line.

But the topic you bring up - What do you use? is so very, very broad it's hard for me to answer. The first situation you bring up - working hard at school all week, extra Nintendo time, rock climbing, that suggests an older child. Then the example with the 3 year old flushing things down the toilet, clearly a very young child.

Young children need immediate or very soon positive consequences in order to reinforce their behavior, with older children the reward can be delayed.

One thing I learned over the years is that with young children redirecting and reasoning take a loooong time sometimes. It's tempting to try to take a shortcut with rewards, but sometimes that just leads to bigger problems. I don't remember anything my kids did at 3 years old that redirecting and reasoning, and sometimes negative consequences, didn't extinguish, at least over time, as long as I was consistent. I did reward certain things - a successful trip to the potty always ended in picking out an m&m (after washing hands, of course). As far as I remember (oldest is 19), in the early years the reward was more to make the activity fun and establish the good habit faster.

Other rewards as they got older - when my kids were in early elementary school and kindergarten, if they got perfect conduct on their Friday report we had ice cream for dessert and the whole family did a special cheer. We just did that the first couple of years they were in school, and after that they naturally got good conduct on their own. I think they enjoyed the cheer as much as they did the ice cream.

Most of the time I tried two tactics that were positive. The first was to make the desired good behavior fun. For example, we were interrupting each other a lot over dinner, and also one of our family members rarely talked much. So we instituted a family tradition - The Magic Knife (butter knife). The person who had possession of The Magic Knife got to talk. No one but Mom was allowed to interrupt or take the knife. This killed two birds with one stone - stopped the interrupting, and the quiet one wanted her turn with The Magic Knife so badly she thought of things she wanted to share about her day.

Another family tradition was The Blessing Cup. If you were caught being a blessing to someone else, then you got to drink from The Blessing Cup at dinner that night. I found a fancy dinner goblet with gold sparkles in the base to use as The Blessing Cup. It was less of a "treat" like a sticker or candy, and more in the way of an honor or recognition, which I find is the most powerful incentive of all.

My second positive tactic was to show that good things will naturally happen if you make good choices. For example, if you get all your chores done in the morning, then we will have time to bake cookies when you finish. It's not a reward, exactly, but more of a natural tie-in between good choices and good outcomes. I tried to pick something logical. It was really more in the attitude - NOT if you get your chores done your reward will be baking cookies, but instead the attitude that if you are efficient and get your work done, then you will free up more time for fun things. I almost always used this tactic as a carrot-and-stick combination.....if you get your chores done properly, we will have time to bake cookies when you finish. If you don't, then you will have to redo your chores, interrupt your fun time, it will be inconvenient for you and mom will be unhappy (and make you unhappy in the process).

When my kids were a little older (maybe late elementary, middle school), and they faced something very difficult for them, then I threw my whole arsenal at them - carrot-and-stick, both short and long term consequences, and natural tie-ins.

I did not believe in tying an allowance or money to my kids doing regular chores. But when the family spent the morning doing yardwork, then we tried to follow it up with a movie or going out for pizza. It wasn't a reward, exactly, as much as it was a celebration of our accomplishment.

I really didn't use many formal reward systems like what I think you are looking for. It would probably help if we knew which behaviors you are trying to extinguish, for what ages, in what setting.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I guess I don't know what you're getting at. I don't know if we are discussing hypotheticals or reality here. So I put all the following out there for the sake of discussion, not as instructions on how I think you should parent.

Hypothetically, I would discipline a child for undesirable behavior if it was potentially desstructive or offensive. By discipline, I mean time out or taking away a privelege. I would not then reward him/her when the behavior stopped.

In reality, my now 6 y/o did go through a phase when he was about 3 when he would throw everything imaginable in the toilet just to see what would happen. Call it preschool scientific research. He would have to clean up as much as he was able, be in time out, and I probably took away a favorite toy/activity for the day. I do not recall exactly what I took away b/c his toilet days are long since past. Now we can just laugh about it, like most of those quirky phases.

In that situation obviously the behavior is unacceptable. However, it's not extraordinary for a 3 y/o to have more curiosity than self control. Such antics are within the range of normal 3 y/o parenting experiences. That said, the motivation of the child is a factor. If it's curiosity and innocent lack of self control, what I've stated is, I think, appropriate. And some explaining how the toilet works and why we can't put things in it. Preschool science lesson. However, sometimes (and only the parents knows this best) the behavior is not motivated by curiosity, but by malice or an outlet for angry feelings and/or to get attention. In that case, the feelings motivating the behavior need to be dealt with.

I'm just thinking if I'm a kid who flushes towels in the toilet, then stops and gets a treat... I'm going to find something else to get in trouble for, stop and get another treat. As a kid, I'd think I just learned the secret to getting treats. Be bad, then be good, then get reward. You see what I'm saying? You wouldn't reward a child for not throwing towels in the toilet unless the did it first. So maybe the sibling of the child is thinking "Dang, that's not fair. I never threw the towel in the toilet and I didn't get a sticker. What's a kid gotta do to get a sticker?" Looks like they gotta be "bad" first, then be good. The "good" behavior wouldn't be worthy of reward if there wasn't "bad" first. And you can't go around giving treats for the normally expected manners and behavior. "Oh, you didn't spit on anyone today, you get a sticker...." that just would get crazy. I wouldn't reward a child for not spitting on people; so I would likewise not reward them if they spit on people in the past, but stopped. There would be a negative consequence for spitting on people, but no reward for not doing it. The positive reinforcement for not spitting on people is natural... people like to be your friend. That's all assuming there are no cognitive delays that merit a different approach to teaching socially acceptable behavior.

There is no one right way to parent. You have your way, I have mine, and so does every other parent. I respect that, I am not judging and have not intended a judgemental tone in anything I've said. The methods and opinions I've described are my own, and not intended to be universally applied as the one right way. When a child drops things in the toilet, I would discipline that behavior, but not reward with a prize/treat when it stops beyond saying something like "I'm so happy you didn't put that in the toilet, now our toilet still works!"

I answered your first question. What do you use? I don't use much. Extra time on favorite, but normally limited, activities (video games/TV), is what I prefer to use if I need a motivational reward. I do not routinely use rewards to stop undesirable behavior, especially if it is destructive or offensive. I would apply a negative consequence intended to make the child recognize that X behavior results in loss of priveleges/activities, in other words, "fun." An undesirable behavior for which I might offer a motivational reward might be something like a nail biting habit; annoying, but not offensive.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

Those are great responses! Lots to think about and good on-focus answers. Yes, it is a contentious topic, as I can see ;D Thanks for talking to me and getting to the heart of it all. I don't think I really knew completely what I was getting at either. Your muddling along with my muddledness helped. I think what it boils down to is this:

"Young children need immediate or very soon positive consequences in order to reinforce their behavior, with older children the reward can be delayed."

To answer, my son is in-between young and older. Hes youngish. And there is a concrete problem. My hypothetical was to show in action what I was talking about. It is a good way for those children who lack reasoning abilities, and it was more to understand I wasn't talking about nail-biting and for any future readers or lurkers. Stickers, barbie playing, whatever works is good for breaking cycles in this cognitive stage.

I have begun to step into broader, longer termed consequences with which I don't interfere. For example, he played baseball last spring. I was in school along with working, so I handed off making it to practices and games to my husband and son. While I wont go into it, it basically it became the sons responsibility 100% to remember when/where (and he had the tools to do this). He missed three practices in a row and a game. Finally frustrated enough, he came to me and wanted to know why no one was "reminding him". Of course, since he was now primed for listening, I told him why and how to ameliorate the situation (by writing down the entire schedule on his own calendar!!!). He learned the lesson well and listened to his coach tell when and where after every game, which he had written down and could see every day as he passed by his calendar. Well try it again when guitar practices come up.

Since hes still youngish, extreme times, still call for immediate consequences. That is, he doesnt fully have that reasoning function down yet. It is his cross to bear, as he is way ahead of many of the other childhood markers, but this one lags! UGH. Yes, there is a concrete problem he has to fix immediately or pay larger consequences. Not only am I not ready, he's really not ready. And I am going to do the quick fix this time. I hope, for the last time. Although, hed probably be better off with the larger consequence, now that I am thinking it out. Maybe I am ready.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I guess I'm not really sure what it is you're asking about.

In your first post, the reward systems you mention - fun food items, stickers, little toys out of a bucket - these are all reward systems I'm accustomed to seeing with small children. Or else reward systems used in school classrooms.

As my children get older and understand delayed gratification a bit, I phased out that type of reward (stickers, toys out of a bucket, etc.). Partly because of the reasons Stephanie mentioned, but for other reasons as well. I would not have given rewards in either of the examples you gave. I'm not saying you were wrong to use rewards, just saying that would not have been my choice. For the toilet example, I would have redirected as others said, and possibly some negative consequences, and I would have maybe put a baby gate in front of the bathroom, something like that.

In my home, run by DaisyinGA rules, a child who is old enough to be 100% responsible for remembering sports practices would be too old for stickers and little toys from a bucket. My kids would have considered those types of rewards too babyish by then. My son would have negative consequences for forgetting the practice, and the positive consequence would be getting to participate in the sport. Again, I'm not saying you're wrong if you choose to reward - your house, your rules.

I completely sympathize with going to school and working at the same time, and needing your child to step up to his responsibilities. You have no idea how much I sympathize, and we did have a family disaster that required my son to step up in ways I never thought he'd have to until he was grown. But as the mom of teenagers, I can tell you there are very few shortcuts in parenting. Lots of external rewards lose their effectiveness as kids get older. Relying very much on external rewards will backfire as kids get older. Go back and reread Stephanie's post, and instead of thinking about a 3 year old, escalate that situation to a teenager who has often been given external, artificial rewards to extinguish undesired behavior.

Here are what I consider keys to getting the desired behavior from kids as they get older:

1 - Let them know what you want, and why, and be clear and consistent about it.
2 - If they are doing something negative, try to find out why. Talk to them, ask them about it. They may have a good reason. If they object to your rules, try to look at it from their point of view. They may be right. If they are wrong, at least they know you considered their point of view before you made your decision.
3 - Be consistent about discipline. Don't discipline for a negative behavior one day and look the other way the next.
4 - Be reasonable in your expectations. Don't set them up for failure by requiring more than they're able to do. Easy to say, hard to do.

The only times I used formal rewards were when my kids were too young to grasp the consequences of their actions and I needed some artificial reward system. For example, if my children took (or take) the hardest classes available, then I pay for A's in those classes (another controversial issue - payment for grades). It was difficult for my 6th grade son to get motivated to study hard by telling him he could get into a better college. He didn't care. So we did give money for good grades if he took a difficult class, and we explained the tie-in between higher education and increased salary (of course as he got older we explained all the caveats...).

But in general we did not give formal rewards for good behavior.

Just one last thing...the time you spend helping your son learn to be organized will be invaluable as he gets older. I have heard teachers say the single biggest predictor of success in upper grades is how organized the kids are. Not how smart, but how organized. Organized kids can accomplish amazing things as they move into high school. Elementary school is a great time to start those habits.

Good luck!


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

You're overlooking things may be what has led to confusion.
"phased out that type of reward"
I'm phasing out.

His reward for remembering baseball was getting to play baseball.

This is such good advice. I do this too. You're setting them up for success when you do it:
- Let them know what you want, and why, and be clear and consistent about it.
2 - If they are doing something negative, try to find out why. Talk to them, ask them about it. They may have a good reason. If they object to your rules, try to look at it from their point of view. They may be right. If they are wrong, at least they know you considered their point of view before you made your decision.
3 - Be consistent about discipline. Don't discipline for a negative behavior one day and look the other way the next.
4 - Be reasonable in your expectations. Don't set them up for failure by requiring more than they're able to do. Easy to say, hard to do.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

With our stepDGS, with some developmental delays, we would make a goal. Let's say, good behavior at school all week - no time-outs, refusals, etc., homework completed, and he could earn that week's goal. It might have been a food treat, activity, earning back his Nintendo for the week-end, watching a favorite movie and so on. We varied it quite a bit. When he first came to us at age 9, the goals were day to day. Have a good day at school today and you can earn @@@@@. As he got older and behavior improved, we stretched it out a little at a time. He was getting better and finally didn't need goals and rewards very often. We used a combo of removing privileges and setting goals and rewards.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I'm sorry, perhaps I have overlooked things. It's true that you say you are phasing those things out. However, your initial post seemed to be looking for more reward ideas in addition to the ones you are still using, i.e. small toys, stickers, fun foods, etc.

What I meant was that by the time my children were old enough to keep their own calendar, I had already phased out those reward systems. So I don't have any reward ideas to add to a child who is still old enough for stickers, small toys, fun foods, etc.

So I am still confused, but hopefully someone else will answer. Good luck!


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

These are my experiences with my daughter while she was growing up (she's now 16-1/2 yrs old).

14 - 18 mths She would get so frustrated when she tried to do something and couldn't that she would bang her head against the wall, floor, etc. I was so scared that she'd get brain damage or something! At first I would just stop her and tell her not to do that. The time that she hurt herself in the bathtub and got mad and she started banging her head againt the tub and hurt herself even more, I gave her a few taps on the bum and told her to stop doing that cuz she'd hurt herself really bad. So every time she banged her head on the floor/wall in frustration, I'd tap her butt. She stopped doing it not long after!

Another time, she returned a small plate to the "island counter" and was pushing it on the counter. I told her to stop cuz it was going to fall on the other side of the counter and break and we wouldn't be able to use it again. She kept pushing the plate, all the while staring right at me. The plate fell and broke. She ran to her room. I laughed a little. When she came out, I told her to come see what happened to the plate. How was she to know what "break" meant right? She said a big "Oooohh!" when she saw it. Now she knew what I was talking about. She just wanted to see what "break" meant.

2 years old Now that I got her to stop banging her head, she started throwing everything in her site when she got frustrated. When I could see her frustration starting to rise, I'd hurry up and clear everything from the coffee table (it had a glass top). Enough was enough, so one day I said "Okay, I told you over and over to stop throwing things and you won't. You want to throw stuff well so will I!" I threw her plastic doll carriage against the wall and it broke. She never threw anything else after that. To this day, she remembers that!


2-1/2 to 4 years We had to move into our basement because we redid our entire house (roof, walls, etc.) and added on to it. We have a woodstove in our basement and all my husbands tools where there too. I explained the danger of the wood stove to my daughter and she never once attempted to touch it. I told her about the fire in it and what would happen if she touched it. Her skin would be scarred for life and it would be very, very painful. With the tools, I told her that she could seriouly hurt herself (cutting off finger). For 2 years, we never had a problem of her touching either of them.

3 yrs We were in drug store and she was looking at toys. She didn't want to leave and started yelling/crying and so I picked her up. She then proceeded to slapping me out in my face. I grabbed her hands to stop her. When I lost her grip, she slapped me out again. When we got in the car, I pointed my finger at her and in a quiet, angered voice, I told her that if she ever, ever did that to me again that I would spank her bum so hard that it would hurt for her to sit down (of course I never touched her in her life). She never did it again!

At 4 yrs old, she would ALWAYS take fits if we had to leave a friend's house. I would ignore it and attempt to get her dressed (it was winter). She kept doing it over and over again. I didn't know what to do. My SIL and mother told me that I had to be consistent in my discipline if it was going to stop. You see, every time we left our house to go to my friend's house, I would tell my daughter that if she took her fit when it was time to come home, that we wouldn't go again. Of course, I kept going over again! So one day when she started her fit cuz the kids couldn't get along, I came home and told her that she was going to have to amuse herself. We were sitting at the table (me reading a book and her colouring) when I asked her if she was having fun. She said "Yeah! I don't care!" It broke my heart knowing that she was hurting deep down inside, but her fits stopped!

The way I disciplined my child was:

First time, I always asked her with the word "please".
She doesn't listen.

Second time, I ask again without the word "please".
She doesn't listen.

Third time, I tell her that I am not asking anymore and am "telling her" to do it.

If she still didn't do it, I would take something away.

Once (she was 4) I told her that she couldn't watch cartoons. After an hour she said "Mom! Can you give me a spanking instead?" I said no and she asked why. I told her "Because I love you!". I knew then that I was doing the right thing. She reasoned that a spanking would be over with quickly and she'd get to watch her cartoons!

We always explained things to our daughter. If the answer was no, we'd explain WHY it was no. My sister would always tell her daughter no and wouldn't explain why. Poor kid was always doing it and getting yelled at and she didn't know why! I swore I'd never do that!

Re toilet story - she once put a balloon in the toilet. I explained to her that we didn't put anything in the toilet cuz it would break and we'd have nowhere to pee! LOL That worked!

I remember another time when she was almost 20 mths or so and she wanted a bottle. I told her that she'd have to go for a nap if I gave her a bottle (she was down to 1 bottle at bedtime, and she wouldn't even drink it anyways, she just wanted it with her). Anyways, it was in the afternoon and she got mad. She went into her room and threw everything out in the hallway... toys, blankets, etc. After she was finished, she looked at me and said "There!" I told her that she'd have to put everything back in her room NOW! She said no and I told her again while leaning on the wall watching her. She wasn't a happy camper but she did it anyways, all the while crying! She never did to do it again!

For my friend's daughter, however, nothing she did worked! She tried EVERYTHING!!! Her problem was that she was NEVER consistent. I explained my own experience but she didn't take it. She still doesn't and her kids are 12 and 15 and are horrors!!!! BUT... they sure do listen to their father! Always did!

I never did the reward thing but once a year when she finished school. I still do! This year, I told her that my "gift" to her for being such a good kid and doing so well in school is a weekend pass (4 days) to Summerfest, and Dad's gift to her was him driving her there and picking her up afterwards. She went with a friend who stayed at our house the whole 4 days and she had an awesome time! (Summerfest is the city's summer celebration with big name bands, midway rides, etc.)

It's like someone mentioned above, why reward bad behaviour? They will just do it again to get a reward!

A child has to learn good behaviour PERIOD! Not because he get's something for it, but because you said so and you're the parent.

It's like paying your child to do chores! A child has to learn that he has chores to do because he's a member of a family and we all have to share in the responsibilties. My daughter does chores and doesn't get a weekly allowance. BUT.. we'll give her money for a movie, lunch with friends, etc. I remember a friend who told their child to cut the grass. The child asked how much he was gonna pay him to do it. The dad said you're gonna cut the grass because I tell you to not because you're getting paid! I feed you, clothe you, and provided a roof over your head. That's payment enough!

I keep reminding myself that my daughter will hate me at times because of my displine, and that's alright. I remember feeling the same way at her age. It's just anger, not hate! After all, what child likes discipline? LOL


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

1 - Let them know what you want, and why, and be clear and consistent about it.
2 - If they are doing something negative, try to find out why. Talk to them, ask them about it. They may have a good reason. If they object to your rules, try to look at it from their point of view. They may be right. If they are wrong, at least they know you considered their point of view before you made your decision.
3 - Be consistent about discipline. Don't discipline for a negative behavior one day and look the other way the next.
4 - Be reasonable in your expectations. Don't set them up for failure by requiring more than they're able to do. Easy to say, hard to do.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

If they object to your rules, try to look at it from their point of view. They may be right. If they are wrong, at least they know you considered their point of view before you made your decision.

We have done this many, many times. Sometimes they bring up a good point that you haven't thought of.

In a nutshell, it all comes down to open communication, including listening. I remember my niece who said from experience (at age 30) that one of the hardest thing growing up is having parents that don't listen! It's true too. There's a difference between HEARING your child and LISTENING to your child.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

"The way I disciplined my child was:
First time, I always asked her with the word "please".
She doesn't listen.
Second time, I ask again without the word "please".
She doesn't listen.
Third time, I tell her that I am not asking anymore and am "telling her" to do it.
If she still didn't do it, I would take something away."

For those who are reading, this is negative reinforcement. And it's ok if that's your style. I prefer not to do this, because if the taken away thing doesn't elicit the desired change, you've lost your leverage.... and the ante goes up. What's next? Threats, even if only subtle ones. I see still no one is addressing a difficult sitution. Pick one where reasonable things didn't work. Any of them. What did you do next? Everyone is still talking about every day behavior. Are you saying you never encountered hard times?

If you notice the parenting list has been reiterated three times now (once by me. I too live by this list). It's an important list, and on target, but let's make it complete. Add these:

-Catch your child being good. Praise that behavior fully and make it meaningful.
-Be calm even in the hard situations. Walk away if you need. Let them take a break if they need.
-When something does go wrong, wait to talk about it. Hard feelings are almost always better or gone when you wait.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I have 4 kids, ages 6, 9, 12 and 15. I'm only half done with raising them all, so I might face some surprises yet. But I can't think of a time so far when a behavior came up that was outside the range of normal.

"Negative" reinforcement is not a value label on the method, just a descriptive one. It just means something is taken rather than given (positive) to change the behavior. The connotation of the word "negative" should not be used to suggest the method is a harmful one. "Positive" reinforcement runs the same risk of losing effectiveness. As a child devolopes cognitively they are going to associate behavior with rewards and expect rewards. When a sticker no longer motivates, it loses its effectiveness and a parent indeed does "up the ante" to candy, small toys, big toys. Until a parent thinks "What will I have give the kid next?!" Oh, how about a new car? I am being sarcastic. But seriously, there are parents who get to that point. We've probably all met a couple. When a child asks, and starts to behave under the understanding, "What are going to give me if I do what you ask?" THAT is "the tail wagging the dog." On the occassion that one of mine asks "What will you give me?" it's time to throw behavioral conditioning theories to the dogs. LOL. My answer is "Nothin'. But let me tell you what you stand to lose if you don't."

I am not authoritarian by any means. And I do pick my battles. But when I must pick one, I let me kids know "This is a battle I'm picking. Don't fight me on it, I will win this one because this time it matters." Resistance is futile. ;o) I am still in charge, and sometimes I have to pull rank. I will take away everything they *think* they own if I have to. It really does end the battle when I tell them that straight up. It seems to remind that that I really don't control everything in their lives, and that arguing with me after that point will have consequences.

Intentional positive or negative reinforcement are not the only approaches here. We are underestimating our children's intelligence, and simplifying their feelings, if we think they have to been bribed or threatened as the only ways to teach them appropriate choices. They are not white rats in a maze. They are also motivated by complicated emotions.

If a child continues a distruptive, harmful behavior after parental attempts to end it, they are getting some sort of unseen reward for it. You know what I mean, the feeling they get from controlling the situation is more valuable to them than any reward or punishment to stop it. Even if as a parent we think the behavior wouldn't seem to be much fun for them, the feeling of control might be great enough to make it worth it.

I can't think of any behavior over the last 15 years my kids have pulled that isn't still within the range of "normal." Annoying, frustrating... yes. But still the same stuff every parent goes through.

My 1st grader's most annoying behavior right now is just flat out refusing to follow directions. I use the word "cooperation." He needs to cooperate with me. I could tell him to go eat a cookie, and he won't do it b/c I told him to. He gets homework Mon-Thurs, and some days will spend 60 minutes giving me excuses why he can't do it before he finally spends the 10 minutes it takes to do the homework. (Other days he'll do his homework without being told, completely by himself, when I'm not even home.) He is obstinate and defiant. But I still think it's within the range of normal, especially for the youngest in the family who doesn't get to be in charge of very much. But when I ask him to do something, I just don't take "no" for an answer. I believe that right now the way to get him through this phase is to show him over and over that it will not work. (Sorry, no computer time today, you spent your time arguing with me about homework instead. Tomorrow, don't argue with me, and you'll have time for the computer. Stinks for you, because you still had to do your homework. Was the battle worth it?) He needs to understand that he did control the situation, but not the way he wanted. His choices directly affect the results. That is the kind of control he's looking for, he just doesn't understand how to work it yet.

If faced with an extreme behavior, outside the range of normal, I would have to consider if I could handle it without outside, professional counsel. If it was potentially dangerous to himself or others, I would feel compelled to get some counselling. But if it wasn't *that* extreme, and he's of an age to reason and take responsibility, I'd form a written behavioral contract. So that he knows what is expected, what he can do to meet that expectation, what happens if he doesn't and what happens if he does. And I think there would have to be a loss for not meeting them, not just the absence of a reward, then he has nothing to lose by not meeting the expectation. That's real life. You can lose what you have if you aren't responsible. The contract should include a chart to mark daily results, so the child can see concretely how he's doing. The child should be included in the meeting to form the contract, as well as any other persons who have a stake in it, another parent or caregiver, for example.

At some point, though, kids are old enough to understand what they stand to gain/lose is more than a sticker (or even a car LOL). It's the respect and trust of others. When people respect and trust you, your life is better, you feel good about yourself. When they don't, you don't have a happy life. It is worth the effort to earn the trust and respect of others. Some rewards are abstract, probably the best ones.


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Just for a laugh

I thought of this post yesterday and laughed, wondering how this reinforcement would be classifed... This story is for entertainment purposes. ;o) That's my disclaimer.

Yesterday my 15 y/o came home from school, got a snack, changed his clothes and went out to the garage to get to work mowing the lawn. Not a word to me beyond "hi." I just watched with a grin. When he was about half done I took him a bottle of water and asked "What do you want?" He wanted to be dropped off to meet friends at a football game, and the $$ to get in and buy a soda. LOL! Mowing the lawn is his weekend chore, so I guess he thought his chances were better if all his responsibilities were done.

That is normal around here. When a kid goes out of their way to be extra helpful I ask "What are you going to ask me to do?"

Oh, yes, of course I took him to the game.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

rob333 - I don't think it's negative reinforcement. Some parents ORDER their child right off the bat. I asked politely and after the second time, I'm not asking! I AM the parent! I like to think of it as authoritive reinforcement!

Are you saying you never encountered hard times?

No, I'm happy to say that I haven't! In fact, many, many people tell my husband and I how wonderful our daughter is, how she is so polite, intelligent, respectful, and beautiful with great values. We are very proud of the young woman she's become! She'll call to let us where she is without our even asking her to do so. She says she does it so we don't worry... and we don't. She's also told us that we've given her all the tools on how to live a safe and healthy life and we are now giving her the chance to use them.

We have never slapped her or had to ground her. We also don't threathen her! When she was little, it was to show her our authority as parents.

If you've ever watched Nanny 911, the cause of the "problem" kids always stems from the mother being afraid to discpline the kids. It's the kids who seem to be in charge of her.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

rob, you asked me what i did. When DD was young, she really didn't do anything what caused major problem. She really was a pretty easy child to deal with. She however became a pain in a butt for a short period of time when she was in 7th-8th grade. Nothing really worked, she just had to overgrow it. I was never that good with consistent punishment or rewards, i am just not that consistent, plus I feel guilty and feel like i am running a bootcamp if I have too many rules. DD was just fine without too many rules, maybe I just got lucky, she was not troubled. She is 20 now, in college and does well.

My parents didn't do any rewards or punishment systems. I don't remember too many rules. We grew up just fine.

I think with me I guess I just don't care about little things.

Oh i tried a reward system once. i suggested I give her something, whatever that reward was, if she cleans her room. lol She said "I so don't want to clean my room that I am OK without XYZ. I'd rather live in a dirty room" lol


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rob

rob, if you want people to suggest something in regards to extraordinary, not every day, behavior you need to point out what it is. You keep saying that people only comment on ordinary every day behavior but it could be that's all they know. i did not experience anything what is unusual, but maybe i did, i just do not know what you mean by extraordinary.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

By definition, negative reinforcement is an action or condition associated with a behavior that is seen to decrease in frequency. If a child or a horse, or a dog exhibits behavior that you deem undesirable and you scold and that behavior doesnt decrease in frequency, then BY DEFINITION that action of scolding is not negative reinforcement.
However the most efficient method of extinguishing an undesirable behavior is no action at all. If that behavior results in nothing the person or dog or horse could deem desirable, that behavior will stop more quickly than administering negative reinforcement.
I did some independant study at an Ivy League school on extinguishing behaviors under a desciple of BF Skinner.
Those behaviors that take the longest to extinguish are those that are randomly rewarded....consistancy is the name of the game.
As a small example, when your year old learns to toss thinga off the highchair and learns of the clatter it makes and the way you go scrambling.....they do it over and over.
So you tie the spoon and toy to the side of the chair....they toss and toss and nothing happens and soon they stop tossing.
BUT...just once forget to tie the spoon down and it hits the floor and splatters strained carrots all over and you freak out....then that child will try to toss the spoon again over and over again.
And you issue positive reinforcement not for NOT acting in a certain way....but for acting in a preferred way. You don't reward a child for not throwing a tantrum....you reward them for behaving like a reasonable person.....and make sure they know the difference.
The most powerful tool for behavior modification in a parent's hands is their approval and praise of the child's actions.
Linda C


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

IMO, a child shouldn't be BRIBED into being good. A child should LEARN to be good because it's the right thing to do, thus learing respect, morals and values... not because they get a sticker, etc., in return!

It's like the saying I've heard many times... today parents aren't raising adults, they're raising kids!


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

"And you issue positive reinforcement not for NOT acting in a certain way....but for acting in a preferred way [my interjection--this was the towel example. "look how well you took care of the towel".]. You don't reward a child for not throwing a tantrum....you reward them for behaving like a reasonable person.....and make sure they know the difference. The most powerful tool for behavior modification in a parent's hands is their approval and praise of the child's actions". Amen to that! I couldn't have said it better.

Ignoring is the number one way to get rid of what you don't want. Unfortunately, I can't control his teachers, so I have to do ???????something????????. Sometimes. Well, until he gets to where he's going. That's how I parent. My son is still learning. I'm just going at it differently than Stephanie, Khandi, firedreams or lots of others to get to my end result.

Last, while it is purely for punishment, a child avoiding their item being taken away is negative reinforcement. Not the same thing, but interconnected.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

You can't control the teacher's behavior but you CAN control how you show your son that you approve or disapprove of the reports he comes home with.
And for a reinforcement, negatave or positive, to be effective it must occur as near as possible to the behavior you are trying to control. Taking away a toy because he brings home a report on Friday saying that on Tuesday he didn't finish his assignment is meaningless....as you are discovering.
he's what? about 7 by now? in Second grade? Way too old for stickers ans candy as rewards for paying attention in class.
Linda C


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

Oh, thank you Linda for the better explanation of positive/negative reinforcement. I learned the difference once upon a time in an educational psychology class, but I'd get a "C-" at best for what I wrote, if it were a test. ;o) I liked the class, though; understanding those concepts does help in parenting. I do find that kind of research fascinating, and useful in a lot of ways.

But when I define how I want to parent I look to examples I know, parents who have a relationship with their child that I admire. The best behaved children I know behave b/c of how they feel about themselves, not b/c their parents will reward or punish them. The parents of those children have built a relationship with the children that shows mutual respect. My decisions as a parent are not guided by an effort to practice positive or negative reinforcement, or any other intentional behavioral theory. Even though it is inately there, and I recognize when I am using both as I'm doing it, I'm not thinking about it consciously. It's not part of a larger master plan of parenting for me.

I DO ask myself:
Am I showing respect?
Am I getting respect?
What lesson am I teaching, and what lesson do I *want* to teach? If they aren't the same, I need to change what I'm doing.
How is this approach going to work out for us in a few years? If I get too focused on solving the immediate issue, and forget to look at the bigger picture, I might be inadvertantly feeding a bigger problem down the road.

Ever since I recognized the success of mutual respect in families I admire, I keep that as my goal for my own family. I know that when my kids feel genuinely good about themselves, from the inside, they behave better. It makes them feel empowered to make more good choices. When they don't, their behavior shows it. Most of their "off days" as far as behavior, will probably come down to something they don't feel good about in themselves.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

If I approve/disapprove, then I am not igorning. Right? So I have to do something. He's 8 and doesn't get stickers or candy for most rewards, paying attention in class or not. Right now, it's guitar lessons since that's an extra school activity. That way it's school for school. Bascially like, "When you keep your grades up you can keep playing sports or cheerlead". Candy is for trying an icky food item (not to you or me, but he thinks it is. Silly boy, when will he realize what he's missing out on?!). This is almost completey gone. Stickers. I can't think of when I did this, but since I can't remember, I bet I haven't gotten rid of them. All I can say is, the sticker bucket is covered in dust.


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Well stated!

Stephanie, you are so right on about this. I have noticed/live it too. Not just with my kid, but others too.

"Ever since I recognized the success of mutual respect in families I admire, I keep that as my goal for my own family. I know that when my kids feel genuinely good about themselves, from the inside, they behave better. It makes them feel empowered to make more good choices. When they don't, their behavior shows it. Most of their "off days" as far as behavior, will probably come down to something they don't feel good about in themselves."


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

as about sports or arts or music other extracurricular actitivities...My opinion...They are very important for children's development so I would not use them as rewards or punishments. DD was in equestrian sport, she did it no matter what grades she got, and at some point grades were noooo good. I didn't make a connection. It was important for her development as a human being and bad grades have nothing to do with it. I am an artist and I would not appreciate anybody taking my art away because I didn't clean my room or got bad grades. I believe he should be able to play guitar no matter what are his grades. in fact when children are involved in somehting they love, their grades might improve as well.


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extracurricular

as about sports or arts or music other extracurricular actitivities...My opinion...They are very important for children's development so I would not use them as rewards or punishments. DD was in equestrian sport, she did it no matter what grades she got, and at some point grades were noooo good. I didn't make a connection. It was important for her development as a human being and bad grades have nothing to do with it. I am an artist and I would not appreciate anybody taking my art away because I didn't clean my room or got bad grades. I believe he should be able to play guitar no matter what are his grades. in fact when children are involved in somehting they love, their grades might improve as well.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I appreciate what you're saying fd. However, he plays plenty of sports, none of which are competitive, as is appropriate for his age. He will play an instrument. I played an instrument, sat first chair, all state orchestra, section leader, won the directors award (only given to one person over the four years of high school), I could go on.... but it's meant to be more an illustration to explain how I fully understand the whole left and right brain meeting in the middle when one plays a musical instrument, and laying a foundation to knowing why it is. Not only that, music was my anchor and emotional outlet throughout school. I just cannot express the gratitude I have for it in saying "anchor", but that's the closest I'll ever get. I never had bad grades so I didn't have to without. Luckily. Whew, trig as a killer, but I got over it. He's only 8. Guitar can wait since he can barely hold it. He picked it. It's used to motivate him in a way that he chose, not me. Guitar was meant to be a freedom for him. There will be plenty of other chances to play musical instruments. And sports, and loads of other fun, kid, developing activities, even if I take away the one. As to my analogy, it was just another of those commonly used, and not necessarily one I use. Just trying to make it more understandable. Luckily, he'll get to do guitar.

Yes, I keep being vague and using general terms, but then, so has everyone else. And at times, I am not using my specific examples, because, as we can see even within this thread, it'd get picked apart. There are just so many ways to parent. I'd only hoped some who related would've contributed, but they're may be scared away by the overwhelming opposite response. You see, I've learned, I can demonstrate what is used by the other of the issue, but it doesn't have to be me 100%. I left off what it was he was doing. Sure, Linda tried to guess, but it was wrong. I can see what would've happened had I actually said what it was he was doing. Oh my. I'd have gotten responses that said, "He's a kid, kid's will do that". "He'll grow out of it". "Gosh, you're overreacting". "My kid did that too and he's just fine". Heck, I have even seen, "What are you some kind of idiot?" Which these answers can fine and good, but no one addresses the real issue. What did you do during the rough times?. Some times being vague works better and some times it doesn't. This time it didn't. But at least I didn't splay myself out for slaughter!

While I do appreciate the very poignant thoughts, I think we've covered enough it. Hopefully, those lurking will have learned something along the way. I know I did. Carrot-and-stick. I'm not sure I do that enough. And maybe my kiddo is big enough to take a larger consequence. Mostly, I learned that while I rarely use the incremental smaller rewards which add up to one big one, my husband really does. It's not helping. So we'll make the big jump to longer off rewards.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

So if your question is what did you do during rough times, my answer is that for my kids, external rewards did not bring about the desired change in behavior.

You are so right, there are many ways to parent. And unlike many of the other posters, my kids did have behaviors that no amount of praise, family approval, communicating family values, mutual respect, etc. extinguished. We did have some rough times. The key for my kids was to find out what motivated my kids toward the bad behavior, and make the bad behavior less convenient, or less rewarding for them, and make the good behavior more attractive to them. But I have to say that as other posters mentioned, I didn't find rewards that effective, but I sure as heck found making the bad behavior unattractive very effective. I was vague about the specifics, because children are motivated very differently. A lot depends on the child.

You are right, people will pick apart your response if you mention specifics. But sometimes it's worth it to find a nugget of helpful information. So I'll throw out a specific situation that was very rough for me.

My son is bright, not a child prodigy but a smart kid. Elementary school was easy for him and he didn't have to pay attention, study, or put much thought at all into his work, and he still made As. His teachers always said he was doing well in school. Consequently, he had very bad work habits. When he hit middle school, his math teacher was difficult, plus his class piloted an 8th grade textbook. The pace of the class was faster, the teacher was more demanding, the work load was greater, and the level of thinking she demanded was higher. My son kept up his old work habits, and he was doing poorly in the class. I tried everything, praise for good behavior, explaining why the math was important, rewards, incentives, none of that worked. My son had always been a great kid, never difficult, did what we asked, etc. But he just wasn't backing down on this one.

So finally, I gritted my teeth and got down to business. Here's what I did - I was very clear about what I expected and why. I listened to his reasons and understood his point of view (I still disagreed). I laid out what was expected and I enforced it without fail, clearly and consistently, every....single...day. Every day I checked his homework. If it wasn't legible, I made him rewrite it. If half of it was incorrect, I made him redo it. A huge part of the problem was that he hated to do the work, so he rushed through it. So I enforced a set length of time he had to spend each day on homework. It did him no good to rush through the work, because he still had to spend X amount of time, if not doing math, then cleaning out his backpack and organizing his work. I made sure there was absolutely no excuse or impediment - we set up a special homework area where I could keep an eye on what he was doing. I made sure he had all the materials he needed easily accessible. And every...single...dreary....afternoon I was a brick wall with regard to homework. There was absolutely no escape. This part was critical, as I had already learned that if I caved an inch he would take a mile. The pace of the class was much faster than he was accustomed to - the teacher didn't spend all week on the same concept, sometimes she only spent one day. So if my son didn't pay attention in class and learn the math from his teacher, he had to learn it from me that night in order to get his homework done correctly. Eventually he figured out that by far his best option was to just listen in class and do the work right the first time. I took away any internal reward he got from rushing through his work. That was the stick part.

The carrot part - our relationship was tense, and it was hard on both my son and myself to go through this every afternoon. Starting middle school is hard enough on kids without throwing this whole mess in the mix. So my husband and I made every effort to keep his weekends fairly stress free and fun. We lightened up on the chores, we went the extra mile getting junk food when his friends came over, we chose family activities that he particularly liked. When he made a particularly good grade, we took him and his friends to the arcade. And (here comes the controversy) we told him we would pay him what was for him a lot of money if he made an A in that class. The reason we did that was (again, controversial) that we feel like there is a correlation between education and earning potential, and our point was that if you do well in school and later college, then graduate school, that should pay off financially as well. (Don't worry, since then we've had many discussions about how some degrees are lucrative, others aren't, do what you love, etc.).

But one reason I was so insistent over the whole thing was that I figured my son would be happier in the advanced class. I figured once he had better work habits established, he would enjoy the faster pace and be less bored, I figured he would fit in better with those kids and like the smaller class size and enjoy the teachers more. That's what happened, and that's the reward that truly changed his behavior. The monetary reward actually did very little except smooth things a very little between the two of us when we first started out. By far the most effective thing to begin the change was the negative part - just clear, consistent, unwavering expectations and unrelenting enforcement, making the bad behavior way less attractive than the good behavior. It took months. And the root cause of the negative behavior was that he was bored out of his mind in elementary school, so he developed poor habits. The ultimate reward was that once he developed good habits, his options opened up dramatically (school offered more gifted classes for kids who qualified and also had good enough grades), so he wasn't bored anymore.

My son began the school year hating the teacher and begging to get out of the class. He ended the school year competing with some other boys to see who got the highest grade and going to the administration to try to get in that teacher's math class the next year (she moved up every year). She is one of his favorite teachers ever. When he started high school, he often chose the hardest classes available, graduated with a good SAT score, good GPA, and lots of AP credit.

So what did I do during the rough times - clear and consistent about my expectations, consistent enforcement, made the bad behavior less attractive to my child and made the good behavior more attractive. I didn't expect an instant fix, but hung in there for the long run.

So if you are having rough times changing behaviors, if you are having a really rough time, first examine yourself. Are your expectations truly reasonable? Do you want that behavior because it's truly good for your child or because it's your own dream? If it's truly reasonable and the best choice for your child, then how far are you willing to go - are you ready to die on that hill? We are talking about something that is obviously very, very important to your child or you wouldn't be having such a rough time.

If so, then examine what motivates your child to continue that behavior in spite of your family values, in spite of all your encouragement and praise of the opposite behavior. Whatever the motivation, it will be very powerful. Then find some way to make that behavior less appealing. Whatever your response, it will have to be tailored to your individual child, your family, yourself, and the circumstances. It helps to know your child really well, which sometimes is easier said than done.

So that's my thought process about how I handle the rough times. I know your previous post sounds like you're not interested in continuing the discussion, and that's fine. But I have felt like beating my head against a wall because I couldn't figure out what to do when I was trying so very hard. Although I agree with the previous posters on much of what they said about praise, kids feeling good about themselves, family respect, etc., there have been a few times when that simply wasn't enough at my house.

Anyway, if you're still reading, good luck!


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

Daisy, oh Daisy. You are a soul twin. Your son sounds like my son. And you hit this from the angles with which I hit them.

You said: "So if you are having rough times changing behaviors, if you are having a really rough time, first examine yourself. Are your expectations truly reasonable? Do you want that behavior because it's truly good for your child or because it's your own dream? If it's truly reasonable and the best choice for your child, then how far are you willing to go - are you ready to die on that hill? We are talking about something that is obviously very, very important to your child or you wouldn't be having such a rough time.

If so, then examine what motivates your child to continue that behavior in spite of your family values, in spite of all your encouragement and praise of the opposite behavior. Whatever the motivation, it will be very powerful. Then find some way to make that behavior less appealing. Whatever your response, it will have to be tailored to your individual child, your family, yourself, and the circumstances. It helps to know your child really well, which sometimes is easier said than done."

You hit the nail on the head; I feel heard. Changing this behavior is key to his success now and as an adult, if you know what I mean. And I bet you do. It is the key to his personality. It really struck me when you said, "If so, then examine what motivates your child to continue that behavior in spite of your family values, in spite of all your encouragement and praise of the opposite behavior. Whatever the motivation..."

I think that's it. It's just too tough to figure out wbat in the heck the motivation is. What is it that is bugging/pushing him to continue doing it? I just cannot figure it out. I know him so well, and still, I cannot figure it out despite every angle, carrot, stick, anything, everything, I can think of! What is it?! I may never know. I may finally see it when he's grown. I may see it tomorrow. Who knows. But after 8 years, I don't get it. I guess I see that as lack on my part, but no one, and I mean no one, could know my little fella better. I listen. He is heard, he says so. And still it remains. Can I just wave a magic wand?


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I suspect the positive reinforcement he is getting is your reaction to that behavior of his which you want to eradicate.
Linda C


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I don't believe my reinforcement plays a role in this one. I'm not around when the behavior goes on, ever, and it doesn't go on year round. Suspect away, but I suspect your comment has little basis other than bias. If your assumption was right, the anamoly would continue indefinitely or worsen. Instead, it stops. Honestly, I think the motivation is fear of the unknown factors in the situation, until they're known. Then it subsides. I don't know how to alleviate his fear, and so, it continues. I'll brainstorm with the school and see what they think next year. He's already done with this year's time.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

I know children (of any age) who do/did the most unusual/disturbing things. I'd rather not repeat it here. It was usually determined through counselling that they did it to get reaction from their parents. Good reaction, bad, no matter. Some would say they did it (whatever it was)because they were angry at their moms/dads so they wanted to piss them off. It might be beneficial to take him to a professional (neutral person, not involved, not a family member etc) If something is so important to him and so disturbing to you, then it is time to involve a professional. They might not help to stop whatever you want to stop, but at least they could help to figure out why your child does what he does.

as about What did I do during rough times? I already answered that. I didn't have any problems when DD was young. Tough times were short period of time in 7th/8th grade. Lots of conversations helped. And then i just let time to run its course. i believe in natural consequences. You don't do well in school you won't get to good college. You won't get to a good college, you will go to a bad one. You won't get a scholarship, you'll have to take a loan. You will have to pay a loan back. etc. I don't need to give my own consequences. there are natural ones.

But i am talking about older child. 8 is very young. i cannot imagine rough times wiht 8-year-olds. What could they possibly do...I think that if I would have problems wiht such young child, I would take him to a professional. There might be somehting what bothers him. Are there are other adults in the house besides you? Who else raises him?


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

Rough patches are pretty typical of all parents, and normal ordinary good kids do things to get a rise out of their siblings, teachers, parents, etc. However, if it was ongoing constant problem, I'd seek professional help.


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RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

If your son's behavior is happening at school, then the teachers' input will be invaluable. Sometimes it helps to ask last year's teacher, because she can answer from hindsight. She had an entire school year of observing your child and the classroom dynamics. Next school year at the beginning of the year you can give his new teacher a heads up, so she can be more observant from the beginning and maybe she can give you some feedback.

If the issue is big enough, then go see the school principal in maybe March of this school year. Ask that your son be placed next school year with a teacher who is experienced and very comfortable working as a team with parents to address problem behaviors. Tell her you want a teacher who will be willing to communicate with you frequently and give you frequent feedback, and receive feedback from you as well. An effective teacher working as a team with an involved parent can do amazing things, and she can give you tremendous insight into your child.

Another thing you can do is refine your interrogation technique. Does your son talk more openly and relaxed if you're both coloring? At dinner time? In the car? Find his most relaxed place to talk. He may not know why he does this behavior. Ask him questions that guide him to figure out what the problem is.

For example, suppose he won't do his social studies work. I'd ask him about what his day is like when he first gets to school. Okay, math is first, he gets out his book, turns to the page. Walk him through what he does and how he feels - not too much minutiae, but enough to get him in the groove and enough that you see his pattern of behavior and feelings. You're looking for both the physical circumstances of the day and also his feelings. You're also looking for circumstances/how he feels when he is behaving successfully, not just during the problem behavior. You may have to stretch it out over many conversations - just one may take too long and bore him too much. Depending on the child, you may have to have this conversation many times. My son was very good at communicating and recognizing his own feelings, my daughter is terrible at it. So she needs many conversations so that she will finally figure out herself why she does what she does. Some people are naturally more self-aware than others, but everyone can learn to be more self-aware.

You will eventually figure out the issue. Keep in mind that your responses are mostly coming from parents with older kids. Some of the problems we had with our kids took us awhile to figure out, and even longer to correct.

Some posters have mentioned kids acting out in order to get a response from their parents. My kids did some little things to get a rise out of me, but any bigger issue was always for some other reason. Usually some reason innate to their personality. For example, my daughter is extremely independent, and usually extremely capable. But if she is ever overwhelmed and needs help, it's a major battle between us because she is determined to do it herself, but she's not capable of doing it. She was that way as a baby, she's that way at 16.

Don't get discouraged, you will figure it out. Sometimes it just takes a lot of time and effort. For most things there aren't any quick fixes.

Good luck!


 o
RE: Treats for positive reinforcement

Daisy,
The knife and cup ideas are great! We had the 'magic feather' when I was a kid, but I don't think I'd want feathers at the dinner table!


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