Bad behaviour and parental attention...

parentastic

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Jul 22, 2011
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pancras said:
I very much like the practices that Kohn advocates it this excerpt. But I think some of his theory is incorrect. The responses he advocates under the heading "Say what you saw" and "Talk less, act more" are positive reinforcers. Kohn is (apparently unknowingly) advocating the use of positive reinforcement and conditioning while giving the appearance that he is vilifying it.
Kohn, I am sure, is well aware that reinforcement happens, whether you want it or not, in every situation in which there is a parental response. The nature of the human brain makes it impossible to avoid reinforcement all together. Besides, truly avoiding reinforcement on purpose every single interaction you have with your child would be tedious, if not totally artificial. As usual, Tad misses the point entirely.

The point is that although reinforcement may happen no matter what you do, you can aim at minimizing it in order to let the child develop its own self-appraisal and internal motivation, while minimizing the negative effects of praises and rewards. For instance - saying what you saw is a way to remain mostly neutral when offering an observation, to help the child realize what's going on and to offer a support to the child's cognitive process during learning (something also called 'scaffolding', a notion introduced by psychologist Vygotsky, if you are interested in the specifics). Yet Kohn, like any professional in this field, is most probably quite aware that the very fact of noticing your child, as well as the tone of voice, may already provide positive reinforcement. At least, it is minimized as the child is encouraged to use their own judgment rather than always depend on somebody else assessment.

To claim that Kohn is (unknowingly or not) advocating positive reinforcement because these two examples also happen not to be 100% totally neutral (which is impossible!) is akin to say that you learned to play the piano because the piano seat was comfortable. It sure didn't hinder, but I'd venture to say it's only a side effect...
 

Andrew W.

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Jul 22, 2013
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I don't know who Pancras was or the history of the interpersonal interactions here, and I have really no desire as a newcomer to get into that. Whatever Pancras's forum foibles or felonies may be, there is a lot of good science behind what he says.

If people are interested in the subject, I would suggest reading Eric Berne's transactional analysis books for the public, <I>Games People Play</I>, and <I>What Do You Say After You Say Hello? </I>There is another, <I>Scripts People Live</I>, written by his protege.

The most common situation where ignoring a situation is the best course is when siblings cooperate in bickering to attract parental attention. They don't really have a problem with each other in most of these situations, they are teammates in an effort to get attention from their parents. Letting them work it out themselves will result in less bickering, because the tactic is not rewarded. There is really nothing intrinsically bad about the bickering, but if it is annoying to the parents, responding to it is not the way to go.

I like the bucket analogy, but I believe the size of the bucket is off by some orders of magnitude. I am not sure if a child can have so much attention he (or she) no longer desires it. We as parents should always be looking for chances to bestow attention upon our children in response to positive actions, but we should make sure we are being honest, not fake, in our interactions. Criticism is not a good form of interaction, and neither, it seems from the evidence, is praise. Showing our children through our actions that they are valued for who they are and not what they do is the best attention we can give them.
 

singledad

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Andrew W. said:
I am not sure if a child can have so much attention he (or she) no longer desires it
I agree, a child will almost always desire attention. But if a child gets enough attention, without having to seek it out, (the “bucket” is full) that desire won’t be such an out-of-control NEED that the child would volunteer to be scolded/punished for it. Let’s be realistic here –no child enjoys being scolded! If a child deliberately does something that they KNOW will get them a scold, common sense tells me that they do this because it is better than the alternative. So what is worse than being scolded? If you read the studies that tad/pancras posted, you will notice that they first deprived the children of attention, and then studied these attention-deprived children’s attempts to get the attention they crave. To me, those studies are pointless. I don’t need a scientist to tell me that an attention deprived child would act out and I fail to see what that has to do with day-to-day discipline. :rolleyes:

PS: Also, a child’s “attention bucket” is leaky. It need constant topping-up ;)
 

singledad

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I’ll make Pacras/tadamsmar’s history short. He has proved himself to be a troll and a liar who was banned for resorting to personal attacks when it was proven that he relies on either discredited science, or science he misunderstands. I call him a liar because his two profiles are completely different – both cannot possibly be true - and he refuses to clarify which one is. He seems to believe that if he continues to ignore straight questions we’ll eventually forget about tadamsmar and start believing him again. Ironically, it kinda fits in with his theory of ignoring children who do things you don’t like :rolleyes:. Anyway, IMO he has ZERO credibility and I personally don’t believe a word he says (types). I linked his old profile earlier in this thread if you want to see his true colours.
 

akmom

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May 22, 2012
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I don't think kids bicker to attract their parents' attention. I think they bicker because they have rudimentary problem-solving skills, and they are resorting to inefficient tactics to wear each other down or solicit a parents' help in getting what they want. If it goes on long enough, I think it escalates to resentment and on-going sibling rivalry. I know it did in my family. My siblings and I weren't even close until our late teens, because there was so much resentment from years of fighting over toys, competing for attention, or aggravating each other to get attention or revenge. My parents ignored it always, and only when it was really annoying them did they bother to yell "Stop." But that doesn't address the underlying issues. It doesn't magically solve the problem they were bickering about.

If my kids bicker, I handle it just like you would in a formal mediation. I intervene, question each of them separately, then help them explain themselves to each other and generate a solution. I don't just leave them to solve problems on their own, unless I'm in the middle of something. Then I might have them wait, but we do go back and reflect later. Sibling rivalry is one problem we don't have in our household, and I never ignore conflict. Life is stressful enough without having the home situation be stressful. I think parents need to be active in making sure the members of the household get along. Children aren't just mindless creatures that occasionally bicker because it's fun when Mom and Dad intervene. They bicker because there is a problem, and it requires a solution. Summoning Mom and Dad, I would argue, is just one way of getting to a solution - an easy way, when they lack their own arsenal of problem-solving techniques.

On another note, I haven't been offended by any of Tadamsmar's posts, though I disagree with some of his positions. However, it seems like some statements that might be tolerated from others generate a lot of criticism for him, simply because he said them. So I can understand the desire to change one's username and details, to get a shot at being taken seriously again. In fact, I think that's what some kids need, who have a history of behavior problems. A chance to start over in a classroom where staff and students treat them like everyone else, instead of like the kid who is always messing up. I know I had plenty of classmates who got scolded for things I knew for a fact I'd get away with... simply because of their history. Maybe it isn't such a bad thing to start over?
 

IADad

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Feb 23, 2009
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AKMom, I think you reduced it to its essence. It only SEEMS to us like they are trying to get their attention.

My kids spend their days with Grandma (not the trouble one, my mom) and it seems like they wait until I pick them up to start bickering. Well, I'm guessing it's either because Grandma does not solve their problems, or they are awaiting me to appeal their case to. So, it seems like they are do it for my attention. The point you make makes much more sense.

I do sometimes make them work it out. I think there is value to them seeing if they can come to a consensus or some compromise that suits them. I guess it depends on the severity. I also think that proximity fuels it sometimes. There are times when they've simply been on top of each other too long and they simply need their own space. I don't have a problem essentially sending them to their own corners. Not as punishment, just as a refreshing get away from each other. Sometimes that works. I do like the mediation thought. I'm going to try to take that approach more.
 

singledad

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akmom said:
On another note, I haven't been offended by any of Tadamsmar's posts, though I disagree with some of his positions. However, it seems like some statements that might be tolerated from others generate a lot of criticism for him, simply because he said them. So I can understand the desire to change one's username and details, to get a shot at being taken seriously again. In fact, I think that's what some kids need, who have a history of behavior problems. A chance to start over in a classroom where staff and students treat them like everyone else, instead of like the kid who is always messing up. I know I had plenty of classmates who got scolded for things I knew for a fact I'd get away with... simply because of their history. Maybe it isn't such a bad thing to start over?
He didn’t change his username to regain credibility. He was banned. IIRC, he launced personal attacks when he was proven wrong in a debate thread, and when the thread was closed, he started a new one for the sole purpose of personally attacking another member. So he was banned.

As for changing his details – in my world, that’s called lying. If he wanted a clean start, he could have left his details blank. Lying doesn’t improve one’s credibility, it destroys what’s left of it. And refusing to acknowledge an obvious lie, destroys my respect for that person.

For the record - I agree 100% with the rest of your post. ;)
 
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jimrich

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Sep 13, 2014
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cybele said:
So I don't understand where this belief comes from where a child must like EVERY vegetable.
I want to comment on this based on my own experiences. When I was about 8, our family was dining with some relatives and I was not eating some item on my plate. The aunt who cooked it said with a silly smile "Jim, how come you are NOT eating -----?" And I simply said "I don't like it." Her silly smile turned to a deep frown and she dropped the subject. Right after dinner, my mom cornered me and began an ANGY, threatening commentary about my rude behavior and how dad would have back handed me away from the table if he had been sitting near me! I was both shocked and alarmed that I had narrowly missed being PUNISHED by our very violent dad for saying I don't like it! It made my blood turn to iced as mom continued to ANGRILY inform me how to "politely" refrain from eating something and NEVER to say I don't like it TO ANYONE! So I had a very edgy feeling at meals after that but could never see why telling the truth was so FORBIDDEN.
LOL, now that I am old enough to understand, I can see that my mom got hurt and embarrassed because I unwittingly OFFENDED her "favorite" Auntie and she just had to punish me for it by threatening me with her "ENFORCER" husband which was her favorite stunt if us kids made mistakes or embarrassed her. This had more to do with mom's EGO than manners or inappropriate behavior. It could easily be said that the (vain) Aunt's question was completely out of line or stated in the wrong way. My answer was true and honest which should have been good enough for anyone and I would still say it today unless I believed someone's EGO would get hurt (and it usually is)!

If I put carrots, potato, green beans and pumpkin on Sasha's plate and he leaves the pumpkin, is it really a problem? If he says "I don't like pumpkin" do I need to push the issue?
Only if your EGO is being challenged.

Do I need to ignore him and praise everyone else at the table who has eaten pumpkin? No. I can just accept that he doesn't like it because he is a human being with his own tastebuds, and next time I can give him a bigger helping of beans and carrots.

Sorry, I've rambled a bit here, but it just doesn't make any sense to me.
Wish my mom had your kind of sense. :)
 

bobspock100

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whew, this one appears to be over-discussed to no end with no accord. I only have 1 boy who is 13, but I have not had much in the way of behavior problems as mentioned here. when he was younger there was some of course, but we managed to get by it without having any major incident or problem. I guess I am of the opinion that intelligent conversation with the kids gets the best results, providing you have such conversation at a time when they are not upset, so they participate normally. althou I have no experience with any extreme situations.