Why A Behavior Plan?

 Behavior Modification Plans are frequently overused, misused or underutilized. Yet, parenting books and websites frequently mention behavior modification as the first line of defense against a willful child. Ready made behavior charts can be purchased online, in book stores, specialty children’s shops, through catalogs and at big chain toy stores. Parenting books and magazines often have suggestions for parents on how to best create their own chart. Why is there such a proliferation of behavior charts? Simply, because they work. However, ask any parent how long the effectiveness of the plan and chart used lasted. Typically, not very long. Why? Because the program was developed without one eye on the future and so the children quickly outgrew it. 


It’s a long road from the “terrible twos” to that of adulthood. Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs most adults will ever encounter. There are several basic requirements for guiding children toward becoming respectful, productive and independent adults, which, when correctly implemented, can pave the way, smoothing out many of the bumps.    


  • Expectations set for children must be simple, concise, consistent and begin early. When a child is very young, it isn’t always clear how they learn best. Is your child an auditory, visual or kinesthetic & tactile learner, or a combination? Not knowing for sure, it is best to deliver expectations both verbally and visually to help your child understand and hold onto the information you are giving.
  • There should be immediate consequences for both negative and positive behavior. The old adage  “Wait until your father gets home!” should be left from whence it came. The child needs to learn to respect and to listen to both parents equally. Mom shouldn't threaten the child with Dad. She must learn to command the respect from her child without relying on the threat of what Daddy will do when he comes home.
  • Consequences should be predetermined, and agreed upon, by both parents and explained to the child ahead of time. This eliminates the element of surprise on the child’s part, and goes a long way to diffusing possible reactions to the consequences. It also prevents the parent from overreacting in anger and giving a consequence that is too harsh for the deed done.
  • Discipline should be de-emotionalized. A predetermined plan of response to behavior removes the need to resort to yelling, spanking and declaring an unrealistic punishment that the parent later recants.
  • The consequences must have meaning, be somewhat variable, in sync with the behavior, and be important to the child. A consequence of no T.V. is ineffective to a child who goes to his room and shuts the door to watch T.V. on the computer. Repeatedly denying the child the same privilege as a punishment will lose its meaning to the child. If a child always loses video game privileges he will become desensitized to the consequence, and not care. The motivating factor for not engaging in negative behavior will be gone.
  • The rewarding of consequences for positive behavior must also have meaning to the child and be valuable enough to keep the child motivated to the good behavior. Rewards must be remain special, have variety, and accrue value with increased positive behavior.

 

 

 

 

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