Whether you are a nanny or parent, you’re faced with the challenges of raising a child, including temper tantrums, getting children to eat healthy foods and fighting between siblings. The issues around behavior can run the gamut. Dr. Alan Kazdin’s book The Everyday Parenting Toolkit: The Kazdin Method for Easy, Step-by-Step, Lasting Change for You and Your Child describes every day approaches and a toolkit for working with children and behavior management. On our podcast, Dr. Kazdin highlights some of the most important tools in his parenting toolkit and gives some tips you can start using today!
Part One: Dr. Kazdin on discipline, moralizing, and punishment
Most people instinctively tell their children what not to do or what they should and shouldn’t do, but talk alone won’t lead to a change in a child’s behavior. Dr. Kazdin explains why.
01:57 — The Everyday Parenting Toolkit brings together psychological research and practical advice
3:20 — Moralizing to a child and telling them they should or shouldn’t do something isn’t an effective way to change their behavior
4:32 — Dr. Kazdin on adults’ tendency to focus on negative behavior and how to turn it into positive reinforcement
6:20 — “The moral lectures are wonderful, but don’t count on them to change behavior.”
7:10 — “Knowing and doing are not very connected in psychology”
Part Two: The ABCs of Parenting
Dr. Kazdin explains the ABCs “Antecedent-Behavior-Consequences” of parenting and how they can be used to reduce unwanted behaviors. He stresses the importance of making children feel like they have a choice in their action, modifying behavior in small increments, and rewarding positive behavior.
7:30 — “I did not invent these. It comes from many, many researchers.”
8:05 – A: “Antecedents: All you do before the behavior.” How do you ask a child to do something? How does choice affect the child’s compliance?
9:42 — B: “The Behavior: What small segments of behavior can you develop?” Asking for 10 minutes of homework at first vs. making the children do all the homework at once
10:30 – C: “The Consequences.” How do you praise a child for doing well?
12:30 — “By and large, most of us are very consistent but ineffective. But it’s better to be inconsistent and use more effective techniques.”
14:07 — “Positive opposites” are one of the most powerful tools in a caretaker’s toolkit. “You want to get rid of a behavior? What’s the opposite that you want to replace it with?”
15:30 — Practice and repetition build habits
Part Three: The Importance of “Please” and Choice
Research shows that “Because I said so” just doesn’t work. Dr. Kazdin emphasizes the importance of making children feel like they have a choice.
17:20 — Traditionally, parents don’t let children have a lot of choice. And that can be a detriment.
18:20 — “The ‘please’ is not to be polite. The ‘please’ is to change how you present the statement and your tone of voice.”
19:00 — Perception of choice vs. actual choice
Part Four: How can parents make a bigger impact?
Most parents go into parenting with general ideas about what behaviors they want to see in their children (e.g. honesty, calm behavior), but Dr. Kazdin tells us that parents should ask themselves what specific actions they want to see. He also introduces the idea of the Tantrum Game as a way of teaching children how to express their frustration.
20:34 — “We all know that children imitate parents, but parents do not do this effectively.”
22:13 — “We ask parents to specify what they want, because if they put it in general terms, if you don’t say what it looks like, you’re not likely to be able to praise it when you see it.”
23:22 — What if you don’t see the positive opposite?
24:20 — The Pretend-Tantrum Game
27:09 — “Having a tantrum is like drowning. Drowning is not the time to learn how to swim.”
28:58 — “Negotiating is talk, and talk is not the way to change behavior.”
30:20 — Dr. Kazdin on getting children to eat vegetables
Dr. Kazdin’s work with the Yale Parenting Center
34:00 — What they do at the parenting center
37:16 — Dr. Kazdin’s top three tips he’s learned from working with parents[author image=”http://asset-server.libsyn.com/item/k-7b8b848945c69a80/b/1377622952/x/adbff5c641c58b42deb1ecd8efa4aaa7/height/150/width/150″ ]Dr. Alan Kazdin, professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University; director of the Yale Parenting Center; The Dr. Phil show contributor; and author of The Everyday Parenting Toolkit: The Kazdin Method for Easy, Step-by-Step, Lasting Change for You and Your Child. Read more about his books, research, and interviews at www.alankadin.com[/author]