Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Increasing Your Child's Good Behavior

Many parent training programs use a strategy known as Child's Game to improve a child's good behavior. The purpose of Child's Game is twofold. One purpose is to provide parent and child with one on one interaction time. This is important because children who act out are often doing so for attention, specially from the parents. The other purpose of Child's Game is to provide parents with the time to practice using positive reinforcement or paying attention to the positive behaviors that parents want to increase in their children. The following is a brief explanation of how Child's Game works, for more specific details refer to the reference at the bottom:

  • Choose a time each day where you can spend 5-15 minutes of uninterrupted time to play with your child. Try to be consistent and pick a time of day that works everyday.
  • It is ideal to play with constructive toys such as building blocks or legos during this time.
  • Narrate what the child is doing. The idea is that somebody who is not watching the child should know exactly what he/she is doing. Think of it as listening to a basketball game on the radio. For example, if your child is playing with blocks your narration might sound something like this, "You're putting the green block on top of the red block and now you're putting the yellow block on top of the red block."
  • Praise the child often. It is important to focus on praising the child for the good things that he/she is doing. Some examples include, "Wow, you're such a good builder," "You're so good at balancing those blocks," "Thanks for sharing your legos, that's nice of you."
  • Avoid asking questions, giving commands and being critical. This is often the hardest part because it is second nature to ask children a lot of questions. Asking questions is not a bad thing; however, during Child's Game asking questions, giving commands or being critical get away from the initial purposes.
This strategy often feels weird and awkward because it is not typically how we interact with children but it has been proven to be beneficial and increase children's good behavior. This specific strategy is useful for children up to ages 9 or 10; however modifications to Child's Game exist for older children and adolescents.

Reference: Gimpel Peacock, G., Collett, B.R. (2010) Collaborative home /school interventions: Evidence based solutions for emotional, behavioral and academic problems. NY Guilford Press
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