Good parenting requires good parenting skills. Here is a list of the skills we teach parents.
Creating a Positive Home Environment – This skill will help you drastically reduce the occurrence of problem behavior, and increase the occurrence of appropriate behavior. Child behavior is very predictable, in this regard. When you pay attention to the good things kids do, they do lots more good things!
Avoid Coercion – Coercion is where we force (or try to force) our kids to do the things we want them to do. “Shut up.” “Sit down!” “Why did you take that toy from your little brother?” Coercion is generally what parents do after their kids misbehave. We react to their inappropriate behavior in a way that shows our disapproval, and in a way we hope will teach them to not do it again. Well, it doesn’t work. In fact, it gives you very short term compliance, but the inappropriate behaviors occur again and again, and normally get progressively worse.
Empathy and Understanding – This skill will help you connect with your child, so your child feels close to you. It will improve the quality of your relationship, and you and your child will be happier for it. As an added benefit, the closer your child feels to you, the greater the positive influence you will have on her. Your child will also be more motivated to please you, and will behave better.
Use Reinforcement – Positive reinforcement is the best way to build positive behavior. Building positive behaviors is the best way to eliminate inappropriate behaviors! Everyone is happier with positive reinforcement.
Effective Praise - Praising children can be a very positive thing or can be a bad thing. This is a right way and a wrong way. Do it the right way, and it improves child behavior, self-esteem, and values. So, learn what works and what does not.
Effective Quesitons - Just like praise, there are ways that questions make things better, and ways that make things worse. Learn what works.
Effective Requests - How a child responds to our requests depends on how the we give the request. Learn how to get your child to do what you ask him to do.
Pivot (planned or purposeful ignoring) – Much of the inconsequential behaviors that our children do is rewarded by our attention. If we want to get rid of those irritating behaviors, we must stop paying them off (and pay off the behaviors we want).
Stop, Redirect, Reinforce – This skill is used to stop children when they behave in a way that cannot be tolerated. Maybe a small child wants to run into the street, or picks up sharp scissors. Maybe a 4 year old is hitting a 2 year old. Maybe a 16 year old is smoking in his bedroom. All of these things cannot be tolerated. This skill teaches parents how to stop the behavior, redirect (or focus) on appropriate behavior, and then the importance of using reinforcement when an appropriate behavior occurs.
Ask, Don't Tell – This is an amazingly effective way to help children comply. You ask your child to do something, and nothing happens. It is time to do the chores, and the child continues to watch TV. You could use coercion to get the kids moving, but that only give you short term gains, followed by long term loses. Immediate Expectations is a far better way.
The Way Things Are - Similar to Ask, Don't Tell, this skill uses empathy and calmly, firmly stating how it is (what must be done, or what cannot be done).
Parental Expectations – What we expect of our children has a large influence on how they behave. With this skill, you can teach your children what you expect them to do, which will greatly increase the chance that they will do it, or at least start to do it. That gives you the opportunity to use reinforcement to acknowledge the appropriate behavior, which will build that very behavior.
Set Expectations – This is a formal variation of Parental Expectations that is used when you really need the behavior to happen. And it works!
Use a Contract – This is a written variation of Set Expectations to remind the child what behavior is expected, and what is earned by doing that behavior. It helps children to do the behaviors more independently, and it helps to make long-term rewards more immediate.
Time-Out from Positive Reinforcement – This is a skill that can be used in many forms. It may be just having a child sitting quietly for a minute, or maybe the child is required to go to a place away from everyone else. Just having the child “take a break” is easy and often appropriate. Using a Time-Out room for tantrums is much like the Emergency Room in the hospital. It is RARELY needed, and when it is needed, it must to be done with great expertise.
Using Consequences (Punishment) - It is not all about the positives. There is a time and a place for appropriate punishment. The key is to use it effectively and in a planned way. What works and what doesn't - watch the LLL class on punishment and find out.
Grandma's Law - Grandma said, "Eat your vegetables, and then you can have desert." Basically, we tell the child, "First do [something the child needs to do] and then you can [something the child wants to do]." This is also known as First-Then. It really helps a child choose to behave well, is respectful to the child, and maintains the parent-child relationship.