Reading and assignment for the discussion:

Reading: Please read the reading for this discussion. It is titled Tool Chest for Problem Behaviors and the reading is posted in full below.

Assignment: Please select one of those tools for dealing with problem behavior in your (or your future!) children. That is, choose any tool except those listed as “ineffective forms of discipline!” 

–Please explain why you prefer the tool you chose.

–Perhaps you already use one of these tools? Please explain that as well. 




FILLER TEXTThe Reading for this discussion: Tool chest for problem behaviors:

Source:  Brooks, Jane B. (2011). The Process of Parenting, 8th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill), 157-165.

“No matter how skilled the parent or how good the parent-child relationship, problems arise, and parents must deal with them. Verbal strategies of dealing with problems are preferred because they enable children to learn the reasons behind consequences and to understand principles that can be used in other situations.

For example, if parents talk about why it is important for children to be ready to go to school in the morning, they can then generalize the importance of promptness to other situations in school or with friends.

We give a number of strategies for parents’ use depending on the situation and their values. These tools should all be used in a family atmosphere in which good behavior receives attention and appreciation. Attention alone is enough reward for some children to increase the positive behaviors you want. Sometimes in the rush of everyday life, parents rush from one problem to another and pay attention only when the child is not doing what is requested. Thus, the child hears only what requires changing. Parents must be sure they are giving attention to the many ways their child follows their requests.

When actions are required, the following choices exist. We begin with natural and logical consequences because it requires primarily that parents let children learn from the consequences of their actions. 

Natural and Logical Consequences

Rudolf Dreikurs described the method of natural and logical consequences as an alternative to parents’ use of power and punishment. The terms

natural consequences and logical consequences are used jointly and interchangeably but have slightly different meanings. Natural consequences are the direct result of a physical act. For example, if you do not eat dinner, you experience hunger. If you do not get your dirty clothes in the laundry, they are not washed. Parents mainly have to stand aside and let the natural consequences occur-let the child remain hungry until the next meal or wear dirty clothes.

Logical consequences are events that follow a social act. For example, if you lie, other people will not believe you. If you misuse the family car,your parents will not trust you with it. Natural and logical consequences are directly related to the act itself and are not usually imposed by others. Exceptions exist, however. If a natural consequence presents a risk to a child–for example, running out into a busy street could result in being hit by a car–parents generally use a logical consequence. If a child starts toward the street, the child is restricted to playing in the house. 

Logical consequences differ from punishment in several ways. Logical conse­quences are directly related to what the child has done–no clothes in the laundry basket results in having no clean clothes. A punishment may have no logical relation­ ship to what the child has done-a spanking is not the direct result of being late for a meal but is the result of the parent’s authority. The method of logical consequences does not place moral blame or pass moral judgment on the child. The child has made a mistake and pays the price. The parent stands by as an adviser rather than a judge.

When a parent establishes a logical consequence, it has to be one that he or she can accept when the child experiences it. For example, if a teen is told that the logical consequence of not getting homework turned in on time is that she will have to stay in on the weekend and complete it all even though there is a desirable party on Friday night, then the parent has to stand by the consequence even though the child is sad and angry, and the parent would like to see the child go to the party.

Mutual Problem Solving 

Thomas Gordon describes mutual problem solving as a useful technique when parents feel a situation must change. Using an I-message, described in Chapter 4, parents describe their feelings of frustration or worry and identify the problem behavior from their point of view. A mother may say, “I get frustrated on weekday mornings when I am driving the children to school and they

Are not ready to go on time, because I am late for work and my supervisor yells at me. What do you think can be done to solve the problem?” Children can then give their suggestions-one might say he cannot get in the bathroom because his sister stays in there so long blow-drying her hair so he is always late and even if he gets up earlier, he won’t be able to get in the bathroom. His sister may agree that it is she who slows things down for him, and she volunteers to shower and to eat breakfast so he can get in the bathroom before she dries her hair. They all agree to try this solution for a week and see what happens. The aim of problem solving is to find a win-win solution agreeable to all concerned. There are several steps to the problem-solving process: 

generating possible solutions 

evaluating possible solutions

deciding on the best solution 

implementing the decision 

doing a follow-up evaluation 

When an agreed-upon solution is not followed, parents must send ·a strong I-message of disappointment and surprise as soon as possible. Perhaps the child can be helped to keep the agreement. Or perhaps another problem-solving session is needed. Gordon advises against the use of penalties to enforce agreements. Parents should assume children will cooperate instead of starting with a negative expectation expressed in the threat of punishment. Children frequently respond well to trust. 

Parents can also use a behavioral contracting system. Just as parents want children to perform certain behaviors, so children want to attain certain objects, activities, and privileges. Parents offer desired rewards in exchange for the performance of certain activities. For example, if a child does his chores (making his bed, clearing the table) without reminders, he earns an extra 15 minutes of time for playing. Likewise, an older child may be given use of the family car on the weekends if she maintains acceptable school grades and arrives home at the prescribed times. Contracting is similar to mutual problem solving but differs in that parents are more authorities who agree to dispense privileges and rewards in exchange for actions rather than joint problem-solvers.

Negative Consequences 

Recall our discussion of learning theories in Chapter 2. Negative consequences are used to decrease behaviors that are not desired. If attention to positive behaviors and the preceding methods have not worked, parents can institute a negative consequence to decrease the likelihood of the behavior’s recurrence. There are six general principles for using negative consequences: 

Intervene early. Do not let the situation get out of control. As soon as the rule is violated, begin to take action. 

Stay as calm and objective as possible. Sometimes parents’ anger and frustration are rewarding to the child. Parents’ emotions can also distract the child from thinking about the rule violation. 

State the rule that was violated. State it simply and do not argue about it.

Use a mild negative consequence. A mild consequence has the advantage that the child often devalues the activity itself and seems more likely to resist temptation and follow the rule in the future.

Use negative consequences consistently. Misbehaviors continue when they are sometimes punished and sometimes not. 

Reinforce positive social behaviors as they occur afterward; parents do not want children to receive more negative than positive consequence 

The following negative consequences range from mild to severe. First, ignoring might seem the easiest in that the parent simply pays no attention to what the child says or does. It requires effort, however, because the parent must keep a neutral facial expression, look away, move away from the child, and give no verbal response or attention to what the child says or does. Ignoring is best for behaviors that are not harmful to anyone. For example, children’s whining, sulking, or pouting can be ignored.

A second is social disapproval. Parents express in a few words, spoken in a firm voice with a disapproving facial expression, that they do not like the behavior. When children continue disapproved behavior, parents can institute a consequence­ removing a privilege, using the time-out strategy, or imposing extra work. When families have contracts, children agree to carry out specified chores or behaviors in exchange for privileges. When certain behaviors do not occur, children lose privileges. 

Finally, time out is the method best reserved for aggressive, destructive, or dangerous behaviors. It serves to stop the disapproved behavior and to give the child a chance to cool off and think about the rule violation. The time-out method has many variations. The child can be requested to sit in a chair in the comer, but many children get up. If the child is required to face the corner, parents can keep a young child in the comer for the stated time. With older children, parents may want to add the rule that if the child does not comply with time out for one parent during the day, making the presence of both parents necessary, then the child will spend twice the amount of time in time out. The time need not be long. For young children, the number of minutes in time out should equal the number of years in age. It is best to have only two or three behaviors requiring time out at any one time. Otherwise, a child may spend a great deal of time in the comer for too many different things. Furthermore, both parents and all caregivers need to agree on the two or three things that will lead to time out so the child receives punishment consistently. 

When children get older and have many toys and recreational pleasures in their rooms, such as stereos and computers, restriction to their room is not an effective punishment. For these children, it is better to substitute extra work or chores that have a constructive outcome such as cleaning the garage or devoting time to a community activity. 

Ineffective Forms of Discipline 

A review of over three hundred studies identifies four kinds of problems in disciplining children: (1) inconsistent discipline, referring to inconsistency both on the part of one parent and between two parents; (2) irritable, harsh, explosive discipline (frequent hitting and threatening); (3) low supervision and low involvement on the part of the parent with the child; and (4) inflexible, rigid discipline (use of a single form of discipline for all transgressions regardless of seriousness). All four forms of ineffective discipline are related to increases in children’s aggressive, rule-breaking behavior that then frequently leads to social difficulties with peers.”

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