The ABC’s of parenting

Researchers and clinicians at 2 leading universities are helping parents learn the most effective behavioral management methods.  It focuses on the the antecedents or what sets the stage for undesirable behavior, the behavior itself or how parents can help a child learn new behavior and consequences, reinforcing positive behaviors or discouraging negative ones.  

  • Point out other children exhibiting a desired behavior. ‘See how nicely that boy is sharing.’ Don’t add, ‘Why can’t you?’
  • Firmly phrase instructions in terms of what to do, instead of what not to do.
  • In case of a temper tantrum, remain calm. Describe the behavior. ‘You are pretending you don’t hear me when I say it’s time to go.
  • Praise reasonable reactions, muted tantrums or any efforts at self-control.
  • State which behavior is being praised. ‘I asked you to pick up the toys, and you did.’
  • As much as possible, ignore negative behaviors. Don’t communicate desperation or beg.
  • Model the behavior you want your child to exhibit.
  • Don’t give up. Some behaviors can take months for a child to master.