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!


Sex Offenders

I have only worked with about a dozen sex offenders in my 32 years as a therapist.  They were children who had been molested and then molested other children because they did not realize there was anything wrong with what they were doing.  They were too young to understand the ramifications of their actions.  It got them into treatment.  I know a therapist who works with sex offenders for a living.  His experience has been valuable to me over the years and especially with these cases.  He usually has a captive audience because most sex offenders that he works with are in jail or have been in jail or are on probation. It is court ordered.  I have learned that out of 100 people who have been molested as children only 15 of those people will become offenders.  The other 85, whether they ever get treatment or not, will not become offenders.  They will exhibit symptoms of being molested.  I have also learned that if you were molested before the age of reason, you are more likely to become a sex offender.  After the age of reason, your instinct that something is wrong with what is happening kicks in and you will not do it to another person.  Your resistance will probable be met with a threat to your family or the offender will get you drunk or high in order to carry out his plan.  The thought about that is, if you were molested starting when you were a baby or toddler, you think it is just something that you do with this person.  You will model that behavior, just like you did when you learned to walk, talk, hold a spoon or fork dress yourself, etc.  You will not realize there is anything wrong with what you are doing.   There have been many studies on sex offenders all over the world, most of them out of jails with the promise of getting out early if they cooperate with the study.  So I am not convinced totally of the results.  All of them basically say the same thing, however.  Every sex offender in jail, has been molested themselves.  They have all been drunk or high when they became offenders for the first time.  They continue to drink and get high during the molestation of others. If you can reach them as small children, you can retrain their brains.  Reprogram them and replace the behavior with something else.   I have also learned that there is no therapeutic treatment that works for an adult offender.  It seems to be passed on from generation to generation, whether it is incestuous or not.   The only thing that seems to work, for the most part, is being monitored by a probation officer when they get out of jail.  Even that does not always work because the ratio of probation officers to sex offenders is too high to keep track of everyone on your case load.  I have no answers for this problem in our society.  I know that it seems to be more prevalent due to the number of children that are exhibiting symptoms.  I also know that court ordered treatment, whether for children or adults, does not work.  No one learns anything, they are just going through the motions in order to not be thrown in jail or to appease their parents.  It does not matter what the problem might be, if you are not ready to deal with the problem, no one is going to make you.