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Behavior Management – Parenting Skill # 7  

Behavior management skills are those skills parents use to handle and modify the behavior of their children.  This is often one of the first things people think of in parenting and often one of the main things parents are looking for help with if they come to work with me.  I find it interesting that it is down at number 7 on the list of top ten parenting skills.

Behavior management is important and how it is handled can make a big difference on behavior and on the general emotional tone of the relationship between parents and kids.  The general rule is to use positive reinforcement as much as possible and punishment only as a last resort. 

I sometimes run into parents who are concerned “rewarding” their kids for doing well isn’t reasonable and won’t set them up to live in the real world.  If you think of rewards in terms of money or material things, I would have to agree.  But positive reinforcement is much more than that.  Praise, appreciation, and even plain attention directed toward children’s behavior can be positively reinforcing.  This is especially true when the emotional tone of the relationship between parents and children is positive.

Given the importance of emotional tone, I should probably mention the 5:1 ratio here.  For a personal relationship to feel positive there generally has to be five positive interactions for every negative interaction.  An emphasis on positive reinforcement helps make that happen.  And a positive relationship makes positive reinforcement more effective.  Nice how it works out that way, isn’t it?

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