Monday, September 29, 2008

Help! My child's behavior just got worse!

Just a quick reminder / tip regarding modifying your child's undesired behavior: often when we are changing our response to your child's behavior to reduce the frequency, intensity or duration of an unwanted or unacceptable behavior we see a spike in the behavior. Things seem to be getting worse and parents want to throw in the hat because they think they've gotten bad advice or are struggling to stay consistent in how they respond to the behavior.

It's very easy for parents to revert back to old patterns at this point and to inadvertently reinforce the behavior they want to see changed. Positive reinforcement happens when anything is done to increase the likelihood of a behavior occurring again. Even a child getting in trouble or being punished can equate positive reinforcement, it's still attention.

This is a very typical response to behavior being changed. It's called an extinction burst. This is the time where consistency in responding to the targeted behavior is critical. If you vary your response you are inviting the behavior to remain, return or escalate. Stick to your plan! It will work.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happiness linke to having or not having children

Newsweek July 7-14, 2008 issue reported that research determined that childless couples are happier.

Whether you believe this or not, have children or not it is compelling to consider a) the reason you had or haven't had children and b) how you perceive your experience of life in general.

As a new parent and a therapist working with families I can definitely see the trend toward a decrease in happiness if the focus is on the burden, the stress and the kind of chaos that can be created if you have not chosen to get organized, take care of yourself and focus on the negative.

The most important thing parents can do to foster happiness and a sense of well being is to begin with taking care of themselves first. This may come in several forms:
  • exercise
  • eating healthy
  • creating independent / recovery time
  • creating time and attention for your spouse
  • being able to set limits for yourself and your children
  • maintaining structure and organization with schedules, activities, responsibilities, etc
  • focusing on what is working and is good and changing what isn't (such as overly busy schedule, too many commitments)
Click here to read the Psychology Today article outlining research that contradicts that childless people are happier than those with children. You may be surprised to read what they have to say about having multiple children vs. one child.