Rewarding Good Behavior and Ignoring Not-So-Good Behaviors
It is important to look for good behaviors in our children (or adults) and to naturally reward them when they occur. By strengthening good behaviors in this way, you naturally weaken bad behaviors.
A way to help this excellent approach to be even more powerful is to develop the habit of ignoring not-so-good behaviors. Withholding your attention from mildly bad behaviors can often reduce their frequency over time. All too often, criticising, scolding, lecturing, showing irritation and anger, even spanking, can actually cause bad behavior to happen more frequently in the future. Remember, any form of your attention (even negative attention) to your children's not-so-good behaviors can be a reward for them.
When bad behavior is not dangerous and not too disruptive it is normally best to ignore it. Then, wait until your child is behaving well and praise these good behaviors at a later time.
The rule of thumb is: look for good behavior that is incompatible with the bad behavior that is of concern. That is, good behavior that will interfere with the bad behavior of concern. The following are several examples of what I mean.
Running/ Later praise walking
Talking Too Loudly/ Later praise talking quietly
Whining/ Later praise being patient and pleasant
Being unkind to others/ Later praise being kind to others
Watch your child's behavior. When you see not-so-good actions, think of the good behaviors you want to replace them with. Then be sure to look for these good behaviors and naturally reward them with your attention (hugs, praise to them, praise in front of others, and special favors, etc.)whenever you see them or similar behaviors.
Dr. Tom 12/17/09