Just because you think your kid should be doing something does not mean that he will just up and do it one day…”just because he should.”
Look, there are a lot of things parents think their kids should do, but ultimately the question remains: IS he doing it? If the answer to that question is ever “NO,” lets talk about it a bit more.
The source of this comment is usually about getting up in the morning, going to bed at night, completing chores, taking a bath, following general directions and simply being “respectful” to parents and other adults. Here is the thing though…it has to have some benefit to the kid for him to do those things without throwing a fit, complaining, or pouting as he takes out the trash.
Why most kids do what they should
Yes, some kids do such things so they can avoid making you mad, keep access to the game system, or simply preserve the ability to sit down without wincing (have a sense of humor…I am not saying spanking is a good idea). There are also kids who do these things because they have sufficient experience with these things resulting in positive things such as praise, high fives, parental acceptance or even access to a little extra time in front of the TV or computer that night. For a lot of kids, these two things are enough.
For some, it isn’t. Here is the help:
To turn the should do into did do you need to begin with a three step shaping process:
1. Arrange certain things to make the behavior more likely to occur. This might mean shortening the task, making it less effortful, less time consuming or more interactive with someone fun (like YOU, for example).
“Clean your room” becomes “pick up those socks, put those shoes under your bed and throw me that towel and we will get out of here!” “Clean the bathroom” turns into “squirt some of this weird blue stuff around the inside of the toilet, flush it and lets go…” “Get dressed” gets done by you going in, putting everything on but the socks and then saying “put your socks on and meet me in the kitchen for those awesome PopTarts.”
2. Reinforce the completion of the task since you just made it much more likely to happen. Be nice. High five. A pleasant, “I appreciate you getting that done this morning.”
Rewards have not been successful up to this point because the task was too aversive or too difficult. The reward did not work because they never got access to it. Now they have…now the reinforcer can begin to work.
3. Slowly fade into higher levels of demand: “Here is your shirt, now all you need is your pants and socks…see you in a second,” “Make sure you get that towel off the floor too, please” or “rub that brush around in that blue toilet stuff before you flush then spray the shower while I get the movie going.”
You see…to make sure something happens, whether or not YOU think it should, it sometimes means taking a few steps back to make it more likely to happen so you can reinforce it.
You should do this…