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Who is the best parenting expert you know?
Dr. Glenn I. Latham, educator and behavior analyst is the expert behind the skills taught here. Dr. Latham was an expert in child and adolescent behavior, and how to improve behavior in the home through parent training. His book, “The Power of Positive Parenting, a Wonderful Way to Raise Children” is the manual that kids should come with. Dr. Latham was a favorite speaker of Education Week and Know Your Religion. Unfortunately, Bro. Latham died suddenly on July 10, 2001, while actively spreading the message of positive parenting. His books are still the best available. His website is http://www.parentrx.com/.
My 26 month old son will not obey me. I want to be positive, but have gotten frustrated and tried the negative stuff, but that doesn’t work. I have tried positive attention, but that doesn’t work either. What do I do?
Your son needs a lesson in “compliance training” and you are just the person to teach it to him. Children do the things they do because of what happens after they do it (the positive or negative consequence). Your son needs to experience some good positive consequences (rewards) for obeying, and some gentle non-payoff consequences for not obeying.
For the latter, if your child needs to obey, then just use “physical guidance” to make him obey. Gently force him to comply. For example, if he needs to go to his room, then put your hands on his back, and turn him toward his room. If he wants to drop to the floor, then put your hands under his armpits and help him walk to his room. If he is somewhere he shouldn’t be, then just move him to where he should be. One problem with non-compliance is that it often gets a lot of parent attention, and parent attention builds child behavior.
Generally, if your son obeys you, then he naturally doesn’t get to play with whatever it was that he wanted. He may get positive attention if he obeys, but that just might not be as big of a reward (consequence). So, play a compliance game with him. Get some small treats. It could even be the snacks you would give him that day anyway. Get a pouch or something you can wear so you always have the treats with you. At first, everytime he obeys, give him a great, AND give him prase and touch. Do this every time he obeys for a while. Then, when there is something to do that he wants (like coming to you so you can read him a book), skip the treat, but still give the nice words and touch as a consequence. You can slowly “thin” the treats as the reinforcer. At first, give him a treat 2 of 3 times, then half the time, then 20% of the time, etc. Always give your positive attention when he complies. You will need to be the judge for how slowly you fade out the treats as the reinforcer. The main thing is to make sure he complies almost every time (or you can genlty guide him to comply so that his non-compliance does not pay off). You may need to do this for several days to get him complying consistently. In the long run, he won’t remember gettting the treats (or being forced), but after a while, your touch and words given when he complies, will be absolutely as sweet as sugar!
[Follow-up: This mother tried this “compliance training” exercise for three days. She use 1/4 jelly beans and 1/4 Sweet Tarts as the treat. After that, she created a “star chart” for her son, so that he earned stars for obeying. Once he earned 10 stars, he got some candy. More importantly, each star was a way for his mom to acknowledge his appropriate behavior, right away.]