Thursday, December 22, 2011

Distracting or Rewarding Negative Behavior?

If you're a parent than chances are you know that the skill of distraction can be very useful when parenting your child.  When your child sees something that he wants (but can't have) it's often helpful to avoid the situation by showing your child something that is acceptable.  However, we need to be careful when we are distracting that we are not accidentally rewarding negative behavior.  Here's an example...

Sally is throwing a temper tantrum at the grocery store because she wants a toy and her Mom tells her that she can't have it.  Her Mom gives her a cookie to distract her (inadvertently rewarding the negative behavior).  While Sally's Mom feels that she is not giving into the behaviors becuase she didn't give her the toy, Sally is learning that if she throws a tantrum than she will get a treat. 

Although distraction is often necessary (to avoid difficult situations) we need to be very careful about when and how we do it.  It is very important that children learn that they can't always get what they want.  Although it's difficult to say no when a temper tantrum might be the result, it's important that we teach our children healthy boundaries and not getting when you want is part of life.

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