Unlike a typical college, at Globe University-Green Bay a lot of our students are parents. Many have asked instructor Ashley Scott for parenting tips, and so she decided to write this blog post and share three of them.
For the last six years, I have worked with adolescents and children in the area of behavior modification and counseling. During those years I have worked with a variety of families and no matter the background almost all have difficulty parenting. Although there is no perfect way to parent, most of the families I work with run into similar issues when it comes to appropriate parenting.
1) Children are master manipulators- I know this sounds mean but it’s true. A child is born knowing how to get his or her basic needs met. They cry when they need to be fed, need to be changed, or when they simply want attention. As the child grows older they are getting their needs met but have to be a little craftier to get their wants met. By the age of two your child has become a master. I will use my four year old son as a great example. At two years old my son figured out, after he got his leg stuck between the bars of his crib, that yelling “Help!” is a great way to get mommy and daddy to come. At three my son discovered that if I am not looking at him I can’t see what he is doing; therefore, he can be sneaky. At four my son discovered that if he says he has to go to the bathroom he can avoid situations that are unpleasant to him. If not put to a stop, imagine how much worse this can get into adolescence.
2) Punishment vs. Modification– Behavior modification uses a variety of positive consequences to achieve desired behaviors. For example, when potty training a child we use excessive praise, stickers, prizes, etc., in an effort to change our child’s behavior. We may continue this in other ways as a child gets older through monetary rewards or privileges. “If you keep your room clean you will be give $20 per week or allow you to use the car.” We are adding positives items/things to encourage certain behaviors. Punishment is a little different in a sense that we are trying to discourage certain behaviors. Time outs, grounding, taking away toys or other items are all forms of punishment. Do we change behaviors? Not necessarily. Sometimes we only teach children to avoid getting caught. It is important to use punishment along with modification. Offer positive praise when a child is behaving appropriately: “Johnny, I like the way you are sitting nicely with your hands to yourself” or “You are doing a really good job with coming home at curfew.” This will hopefully encourage positive behaviors and let your child know you notice and appreciate their good behavior.
3) Say NO! – Even if you can give your child what they are asking for, sometimes say no anyway. For example, I can afford to get my child a toy every time he comes to the store with me but sometimes I say no. There will be times in which you have to say no or a teacher has to say no and you want your child to handle those moments appropriately. Practicing by saying no now will help your child deal with disappointment and setbacks in the future.
To learn more great parenting tips, including how you can help your child through a meltdown and providing your child with options, attend a parenting class.
Written by Ashley Scott, lead Global Citizenship instructor, Globe University-Green Bay