Reinforcing positive behavior

If you have a child or even an adult that acts out to get attention or to try to get their point across, ignoring the behavior is often what will stop the behavior.  Again it does not happen instantly.  it takes 3 weeks to change a behavior and 3 more weeks to make that behavior a habit.  While you are ignoring the negative behavior you should be reinforcing the positive behavior.  Catch them being good.  I made an example of what I meant by this in an earlier blog, but it goes something like this:  a child who has ADHD and could not sit still for anything, even to eat, was getting worse with his behavior. The parents were only addressing the behavior when he was in trouble and needing a time out.  The end result of this was the parents were taught how to catch him being good and soon the child was being reinforced for the positive things he was doing and not the negative.  He was sitting down to eat a meal with his family and not doing negative things just to get attention.  He was doing positive things instead.

Catching them being good is not easy at first because you have usually taught them to get attention only by doing negative things.  So start small and do not expect them to do anything that you have not taught them to do.  Whatever you have yelled at, punished or otherwise given attention to, they will repeat to get attention because that is the only attention they are getting.  Stop giving it attention and give something positive your attention.  Even if it just happens for a moment, verbally praise it.  Like in the example above the child was only able to stand still for a moment but it was verbally praised and the next time he did it for a little longer, until he was sitting at the table for an entire meal talking with his family.  You can also create opportunities for your child to be good and then praise them for doing so.  You will have to be stronger than your child and not give in when the going gets tough.  Because it will get tough. They will want to continue to do what they have always done, get you to back down by being as obnoxious as they can be.

Again nothing very good happens quickly.  Nothing real happens quickly.  Remember if you have been doing this for a while, it will take a while to undo it.  I know you are tired of it, but  your child is worth the effort.  If it is an adult you will have to do some soul-searching to find out if the relationship is worth the effort put into it.  If you pray, do that, if you meditate do that.  You will have to be centered yourself to be calm enough to do this.  it will not be easy, but it is worth the effort once it is done.  You may also want to use my video on relaxation to stay calm and give away anything that is getting in the way of keeping your peace and connecting with your child.    Click here for the link to the Video’s.   enjoy!

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dtoomey2015

I became a therapist in an attempt to understand my own childhood and what happened there and how it made me who I am, exhibiting the behaviors that were not always positive, very often self-destructive. I used Art Therapy to help me understand things in my past that were stopping me from making better decisions in my present day. I used Behavioral Science to help me understand underlying causal factors, roots to the present day behaviors that I was seeing in myself. Both help me to change those behaviors/thoughts that were causing me to make self-destructive decisions that were causing pain in life. I have been a therapist since 1985 and have an undergraduate degree Art and behavioral science (double major) from the University of Maine. My graduate work was done at Marywood university and I have a degree in Art Therapy. I have certificates in Forensic Interviewing and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior therapy. I have 22 out of 30 credits toward a degree in Trauma Therapy from Drexel University. I started out as a Community Support Worker, Program Manager/Clinical Supervisor, Family therapist and Outpatient therapist.

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