Pay Attention to Behavior You Want

Submitted by PeterAKenny on December 1, 2020

“What’s wrong with that kid. The more I get after him, the worse he, he gets. He’s just behaving badly to get attention….” Of course he is. Why do any of us behave the way we do? We all want to be recognized.

The mistake most of us make is failing to recognize that negative attention is valued almost as much as positive time and praise. If there were only one simple rule for discipline, it would be this: You get more of whatever you notice.

Too many of us choose the LYP method of discipline (Lecture-Yell-Punish). We spend most of our time and focus on correcting the behavior we wish would stop. Unfortunately, this often has the opposite effect. Despite our critical words and punishments, it ends up rewarding the very behaviors we are seeking to eliminate.

We need the misbehavior to stop. A better approach is to ignore the “bad” and focus on the good behavior. If he wets the bed, reward him for “dry” nights. If he uses bad language, reward him each day or half-day that he does not use toilet talk or sex words. If he fights with his siblings, you might reward him for time periods free of fighting. If you want him to study, don’t lecture him. Instead, provide time and attention when he does.

In addition to your time and attention, you might provide a system that offers a small tangible reward. Find out what he wants. Free time? Time to play games on his cellphone? Token amounts of money? Food treats? Bonus points to be saved for a bigger prize? A later curfew or bedtime?

Lying and stealing are slightly more complicated. Still, skip the criticism and ignore the bad behavior. At the same time, you must protect yourself from the consequences. If he lies, you can no longer accept his word. Double-check everything. If he steals from you, search his room for missing valuables. Frisk him before he leaves your home.

Ignoring is a powerful way to get rid of undesirable behavior. It is so simple. PAY attention to behavior you value rather than actions you wish to discourage. Ignoring is not doing nothing. If you ignore me, I will go away.

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