The first in a 5 part series about why our kids misbehave and how to get them to stop.
Before I became distracted by the holidays and all the wonderful fodder that they provide for writing about parenting, I had posted a piece that had promised to share the reasons for our kids’ misbehavior and how we can diminish the frequency of negative behavior that we experience.
To do this however, we must first take a step back. As parents, the question we often find ourselves asking is “how can I get my kid to stop that really annoying behavior?” In the past, when our parents told us to stop, most of us did. Not only was there the threat of a socially accepted spank, but as children of the 70’s we were surrounded by a power hierarchy evident in the work place, our parents’ marriages, and our entertainment (can you imagine Cindy Brady saying "No!" to Mr. Brady?)
Today, we assume equality of power in our marriages, many work places have moved from a hierarchy to a flat organizational model, and our children are routinely entertained by shows where the gag line is about kids manipulating adults into giving them some kind of power. Consequently, children today don’t have the same expectation of “what Dad (or Mom) says goes”.
More recently, parenting trends have focused on behavioral techniques such as time-outs and star charts. There has been a litany of books and nanny shows purporting how to implement these “carrot and stick” techniques, and although they may work for a short time, ultimately they lose their effectiveness (have you ever had an incentive system that’s lasted longer than a few weeks?)
Why? Because behavioral techniques rely on a power hierarchy which no longer exists, and on external motivators which are not effective in the long-term (I will go into greater detail about the science of motivation in a future post). So now that we have a better understanding of why what we’ve been doing doesn’t work anymore, I’m guessing you’re wondering “what will?”
In my upcoming posts I will outline:
- Misbehavior: What our kids are really trying to tell us.
- Techniques Which Will Vanquish Your Kids “Inner Monster”
- Why Threats, Bribes and Rewards Don’t Work
- The Science of Motivation and How We Can Apply It to Raising Kids
Want more information on how to foster these important happiness skills? Go to "Schedule" for a list of current Parent-Ed classes based on Dr. Christine Carter’s Raising Happiness home study.