Title: The Power of Positive Parenting
Author: Dr. Glenn I. Latham
Do you ever feel like you have no control over your children? Does anyone ever not feel that way!? This is a great book about the power of being positive and how it will exert the right kind of control in your homes and families. The basic underlying principle of this book is summed up in a quote printed at the end of every chapter:
“Research has shown that the most effective way to reduce problem behavior in children is to strengthen desirable behavior through positive reinforcement rather than trying to weaken undesirable behavior using aversive or negative processes.” –Dr. Sidney W. Bijou
In essence, be optimistic and focus on what your children do right.
Parts I Liked Best:
The part I found most helpful was at the beginning when the author went over five rules for parenting. The remainder of the book shows how to apply these rules to a myriad of situations from fussy babies and potty training to sibling rivalry and rebellious teenagers.
The five parenting rules are:
Rule 1: Clearly communicate your expectations to your children. This includes a clear description of those behaviors which will get your attention. This is typically taught best in a role-playing setting. There’s a lot that could be said about this rule; the chapter about it was long and detailed. In a nutshell, describing expectations should be a two-way conversation with your child. One thing I found interesting is that you should ask, “What privileges will you continue to enjoy if you (insert desired behavior here)?” That way you find out from your child what matters the most to them.
Rule 2: Ignore inconsequential behaviors. Inconsequential behaviors are what the author calls age-typical, “junk” behavior, things that most children do. Some examples are arguing with siblings, meaningless name-calling, messy rooms, and weird hairstyles. The author stresses that behaviors like this are part of growing up, that we have no control over them and if ignored, will typically go away for lack of attention.
Rule 3: Selectively reinforce appropriate behaviors. I felt like this was really the crux of the book: notice the good and tell your children. I loved this quote, “Virtually all children, in the course of a day, will do or say something that is worth reinforcing” (page 55). The author told one mother who could not think of anything complimentary about her son to say, “Hello. Glad you’re home safe and sound. Good breathing” (pg 95).
Rule 4: Stop then redirect inappropriate behavior. Inappropriate behaviors are those that can’t be ignored because they will seriously hurt another person or property. The key to dealing with these behaviors is to remain emotionless (Can someone make me a magic potion for that?!), explain calmly why the behavior is unacceptable and then teach acceptable behavior. Positive reinforcement should be given as soon as there is improvement.
Rule 5: Stay close to your children. Give lots of hugs, even when they’re teenagers and pretend to hate it! Take note of what your child is interested in and talk to them about it. Tell jokes, laugh, and make humor a part of your home.
How This Book Made an Impact In My Life, Especially as a Mother (or why I just really liked it):
I think this might be the manual the nurses forgot to give me when I left the hospital with my first newborn baby. It covers so many different aspects of child-rearing in a positive, straight-forward manner.
I tried to put the skills this book teaches to the test. Ignoring “inconsequential behavior” really seemed counter-intuitive to me at first, but I have found it oddly liberating. I’m not constantly nit-picking at my children’s behavior. By making a conscious effort to notice the good that my children do, it makes us all happier.
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