Friday, September 4, 2009

more behaviourist creep-tasticness

while i was researching my last post i googled "token economy" and the first link after the wiki article was for the website kidsmakingchange.com. i cant get there banner picture to show so you might as well click over so you have an idea what im talking about.

the egg family (kinda looks like a veggie-tale knock-off) and what is in their eyes. for the mother, it's a heart. the father, a star. the child, a dollar sign. the site is not very easy to navigate. it mostly regurgitates the same thing imploring the visitor to sign up for all the secrets.

but back to the egg family's focus. the heart - is the mother acting with love as her intention? or is she looking for "good behaviour" as a sign of love? how many times have you heard "if you really loved me, you'd do...?" is she only willing to love if the behaviour warrants it? the start - does the father see the child's potential, their inner strengths? or does the father see a "good" child as a "star" and the only way to be popular/successful is through "good" behaviour?

in kohn's other book unconditional parenting, he states the use of "time outs" (the short cut of "time out from positive reinforcement") is conditional parenting. the parents' love/time/attention is all based on child's behaviour and whether it is up to snuff. his major complaint about time outs are they often arent used in a constructive way to talk about actions or their repercussions. a child who hits another may need a break to cool down and to keep from further harming themselves or others. the parent may need a break to comfort the victim and to get their own head level, but ultimately it's foolish to think a child in the heat of the moment is going to "think about what they did" simply because they were told head to the naughty mat. a more productive and longer lasting, and longer to achieve, method would be to talk about what lead to the altercation and then talk about why the current actions were not appropriate and what can be done differently next time.

this can be hard to see when one is in the mists of an angry child, a hurt child and a frustrated adult but the main point is children are not trees you can prune to grow against a wall, or dog to train or blank slates to imprint with whatever notions you have about the word. and they certainly arent wild horses that need to be broken by sticker charts and tickets and the parental cold-shoulder to get used to the yoke of civility. they are human beings worthy of respect (and one can give boundaries and regulations with respect) and dignity. eventually, given the proper amount of time and teaching, children will learn to be respectful citizens to whatever degree they possibly can.

but regardless of the parent's motivations, the egg-child's focus is plain and ultimately the most disturbing. the reward. whether it's literally money, or a prize, or parental approval and affection. whether the child has learned life is better when we are nice to others or sharing chores makes us self-reliant and leaves more free time for us all, or sometimes you just have to do things even if they arent all that fun, is left to be said.

1 comment:

Patt said...

I personally don't have a big problem with time outs. There are times when both child and parent need to separate. Parent so you don't do or say something stupid, child so they can stew and/or calm down. Time outs are best if child is given a choice where to take it. For example - You can stand where you are, go to you bedroom, couch, chair, etc, or you can sit on my lap or sit next to me ( always add last place). If child suggest another place and it is safe go for it. Time outs should be no longer then child's age and then both should talk about it, acknowledge and validate each others feelings, probably both apologies, hug, and then go have ice cream.