Whenwe speak of parents being pro-active, most parents sigh andwonder how can they possibly manage to be pro-active when so muchtime is spent being reactive! Parents are under huge demands andoften being reactive is the most natural way to deal with ourchildren’s behaviour.
Proactiveparenting involves creating an environment where problems areprevented before they even occur. This does not mean thatinappropriate behaviour will never happen, but that we can attempt todeal with things before they arise!
Itis extremely important to note the role of reinforcement inmaintaining a behaviour. Reinforcement increasesthe future likelihood that a particular behaviour will occur.Therefore if a behaviour, good or bad, continues it ISbeing reinforced.
Forexample, your child puts away her toys and you hug her which shefinds reinforcing. Her frequency of cleaning up toys increases so youknow that you are reinforcing the cleaning up behaviour.
Or,each time you ask your child to clean up her toys she throws them soyou clean them up for her. Her tantrums increase in severity so youknow that you are reinforcing her tantrums by letting her escapecleaning.
Itis also important to note the role of punishment in decreasing abehaviour. A punisher decreasesthe future likelihood that a particular behaviour will occur.
Ifeach time your child throws a tantrum when asked to clean up and youignore the behaviour and prompt them to tidy up and the tantrumsdecrease over time, you know that you have put the behaviour onextinction by not rewarding the tantrum.
Determiningthe reinforcing properties that are maintaining a behaviour isdifficult as you must determine the function of the behaviour. Aqualified Behaviour Analyst like those at NETwork Interventions, aretrained to take data and implement programming to decreaseinappropriate behaviours and increase appropriate ones.
Oneof the most important aspects of parenting is to be clear in ourdirections and be specific about what we expect of them. When weplace a demand we need to follow through. When we say that there willbe consequences for certain actions, we must follow through withthose consequences.
Consistencyis crucial. Having standards for acceptable behaviour means that wemust be willing to follow through with our instructions and rewardour child when he or she does comply. Our children will learn thatthere are consequences and/or removal of enjoyable things forunacceptable behaviour, and rewards for acceptable behaviour. Mostchildren love to be praised, encouraged and openly rewarded.
Mostof all, children need quality love, time and affection. Children havewhat we like to call, ‘love tanks’ and we need to ensure that weare not just responding reactively, but that we are pro-active indemonstrating our care and love to them.