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cechniques of behavioral psychology offer many different ways to shape a child¶s

behavior so that it becomes obedient to the values the parents want to teach. This
shaping can happen through strategies to Y  selected behaviors or to 

ãncreasing Behaviors through Reinforcementmm

There are two ways to Y  a particular behavior; one is called Y Y

Y   and the other is called  Y
 Y   .mm

?Y Y
 Y   occurs when you Y
   Y  in response to your child¶s
behavior. What you give can be pleasant, such as a reward of money or food, or
unpleasant, such as a verbal

„or positive reinforcement to be effective it mustm

m ›  
m      ›
m      ›   m
m        m
m    ›  m

 Y   occurs when you     Y  in response to your
child¶s behavior. This can be a hard concept to understand, so consider the example
of relieving a child from washing the dinner dishes   you have noticed that he or
she just completed a special report for school. The idea here is that in being relieved
of an unwanted task the child will be motivated to keep doing well in school. Even
though taking away the task may seem like a reward, it technically involves
removing something, so it is a ³negative´

jecreasing Behaviors through Punishment and Other Methodsmm

Several psychological methods can be used to  a particular

 Y is a two-step process which involves first making restitution for the
undesired behavior, and then performing correct behaviors. „or example, a child
might be required to pick up all the clothes from the floor of her bedroom and then
to clean the floors of all the rooms in the
cY   involves removing positive reinforcement for a brief, specified time. „or
example, each time a child has a temper tantrum, he can be sent to a place away
from family activity (such as a chair across the room) and ignored for a  Y 
(such as 30 seconds). „or more details, see below. Note that locking the child in a
closet, for example, is  , not a healthy form of psychological correction, and
serves no good. And sending a child to his or her room as a so-called ³time out´ can,
ironically, be perceived by many children as a form of

% Y  Y is a technique to decrease a previously reinforced behavior by removing

the reinforcement for it. A parent won¶t have much use for this technique²unless
you happen to read this section and find out that you have been unwittingly
reinforcing a bad behavior and now want to remedy it. „or example, you might stop
giving attention to a child when she performs the undesirable

jY  Y Y   involves positively reinforcing all behaviors except the
unwanted behavior. Like extinction, this technique is unlikely to be used by a parent.
Unlike extinction, this technique requires you to actually give something to a child
for all behaviors except the undesired behavior during a certain time

? Y  occurs when you do something (which the child finds to be unpleasant)
in response to your child¶s behavior. An example would be  
Y  driving
privileges or Y  extra tasks for a child to perform in response to a speeding
ticket²all with the goal of decreasing unsafe driving

„or punishment to be effective, it mustm

m ›  
m      ›
m     ›   m
m        m
m    ›  m

The average person, untrained in psychology, often misunderstands the simplicity
and benefits of punishment, so this leads to the next section . . .m

9s long as families have to exist in a permissive culture, psychologically healthy
families need more than healthy communication. Children also need to be punished
when they have done something wrong. After all, punishment is a part of the
reconciliation process, and unpunished guilt can cause psychological problems of its

As ã said in the previous section, punishment is just a simple psychological

technique to decrease specific behavior. But to be effective, it must be used properly.
The punishment, then, must be   ¬ it must be consistent, fair, and adequate to the
transgression. And it must be tempered with

ãn its psychological sense,  means to withhold some²or all²of the

mmm punishment demanded by justice if the guilty person shows deep sorrow for mmm
his or her behavior.m

But this is just the easy part. A parent can¶t expect to administer punishment by
remaining uninvolved. ãn fact, to administer punishment is to  Y


jon¶t expect to take away a child¶s driving privileges and then say, ³Well, you
need to drive to school, so you can use the car for that. Just come home right
after school.´ What child couldn¶t see through that nonsense²and learn to
abuse it immediately? So wake up. You will have to drive your child to and
from school, no matter what the inconvenience to you.

jon¶t expect to confine a child to the house and then expect that you can come
and go, leaving the child alone in the house, while saying ³jon¶t go anywhere.´
Wake up again. You will have to stay home and monitor your child, never
mmm letting him or her leave your sight. Homework must be done under your mmm
supervision, not alone in a bedroom. Meals must be eaten together.
Entertainment must be in your presence. Everything must be done in your
presence, and, as a result²like it or not²you will be drawn closer to your

Sound hard? Well, that¶s why there are so many family problems¬ the parents
are always too busy to really get involved in the punishment. ãn the end, you
have to accept the fact that the punishment will hurt the parent as much as the
child. ãf it doesn¶t, it will never be effective.m

„inally, parents cannot provide healthy punishment unless they themselves live by
healthy values²courage, integrity, and responsibility, for example²that they can
pass on to their children through teaching
Sadly enough, most adolescent ³acting out´ derives from the fact that many
parents¶ values aren¶t really grounded in a deep devotion to something greater
than themselves, such as religious faith. And so the adolescent in effect says,
mmm mmm
³Your values are all a fraud. They¶re arbitrary. So why should ã do what you
say? ãt¶s not fair. ã¶ll do what ã want because my desires are just as valid as
any of yours.´m

As strange as it might seem, a permissive parent who fails to administer discipline

actually causes a child to fear punishment and to associate it with irrational violence.
These fears can become so strong that the child actually engages in violence as an
unconscious plea to be punished for an unspoken, aching sense of guilt for other acts
that were never justly

Guidelines for Punishmentmm

1. The best form of punishment (removing something to decrease a specific behavior)

is Y   . But, for this to work, there has to be in place both a system of positive
recognition and a clear set of family rules. With these in place, ³time out´ then
becomes the response of choice when the child breaks a rule¬ the child is removed
from the positive family activity in such a way that      Y Y  Y while
being excluded from it. „or example, if a child swears, the parent responds²in a
neutral tone, not angrily²³That¶s a time out.´ The child then goes to the time-out
location, such as a chair on the other side of the room, and is ignored by everyone
else. Then, after about   , the parent says OK and calls the child back. And
then the parent must offer positive recognition to the child, such as by giving a hug
and saying, ³ã like the way you accepted the time out so willingly and how, even
though you felt angry, you handled your frustration very well.´mm

d. Any infliction of punishment can easily become  , in which the punisher takes
pleasure in the punishment. ãn terms of parental-child discipline, this is clearly not
acceptable. Period. Many adults use the excuse that the abuse they inflict on
children is ³punishment,´ but this is just a smoke-screen to hide the adult¶s
unconscious sadism²or sado-eroticism, for sadly enough many adults derive a sort
of perverse erotic pleasure in inflicting pain on

3. Physical punishment can also be an ³easy way out´ for a parent who has botched
up the whole job of parental discipline all along and tries to ³save face´ once in a
while by lashing out at the child. ã feel sorry for any children in these circumstances
because there really isn¶t anything that can help them. They will be wounded for life.
The lucky ones will seek psychotherapy as adults, and the unlucky ones will end up
in prison²or in their own private hell of drugs and alcohol or

4. As for ³just´ punishment, ã personally cannot see any reason for punishment that
involves a series of repeated blows, as in caning (whether with a cane or a belt) or
with ³spanking´ as it is commonly conceived. So for  Y the punishment
should be focused on the removal of privileges or perhaps the assignment of extra
tasks. „or   Y in circumstances involving obstinate behavior, rather
than simple childish desires, a   whack on the butt, along with a strong ³No!´
can be quite effective. But even this has to be done in compassion. And it needs to be
done only once. ãf the child doesn¶t get the idea with one whack, then something else
is going on, and the parent needs to re-evaluate the whole

According to California law, striking a child anywhere other than on the butt, or
with an instrument (such as a paddle), constitutes child abuse.m