Michele Borba Blog: 10 discipline secrets all parents should know

by | Jan 2, 2010 | Discipline & Behavior, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

Let’s face it, raising kids is never easy, and especially so these days. We lie awake agonizing over our parenting skills and questioning our choices. (Okay.. not you, but the parent next door, right?) But there are a few secrets that will make parenting less stressful and help our kids act the way we want and without even having to sell him on E-Bay. Really! I promise!

The most important discipline secret is this: Behavior is learned, which means bad behaviors can be unlearned. Think about it. Kids aren’t born obnoxious, rude, defiant, bossy or selfish. They learn those behaviors. Then the behavior helps them get what they want, so they continue using them.

Keep in mind this critical point: bad behaviors typically don’t  just go away. To get rid of them, someone has to intervene,  and that someone is you. Just telling your kid to stop doing a  bad behavior, grounding him, and giving a brilliant lecture,  followed by your sternest look, is no guarantee that he will  reform. Such discipline techniques are good at halting bad  behaviors temporarily, but rarely at eliminating them  altogether. That’s why kids typically reuse the same old bad behavior again–or a new variation of it–and we’re back to square one: pleading, coaxing, yelling, threatening and bribing them to behave. And once again we’re left exhausted, frustrated, discouraged and questioning our parenting skills.

Remember, our goal isn’t just to halt our kid’s bad behaviors temporarily; it is to change these behaviors so they stop using them. That’s what I call “Parenting For Real and Lasting Change.” It’s the premise of my new book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions and I’ll give you everything you need to change the 101 top behavior challenges once and for all.

Meanwhile, here’s a little crash course on the most important ten principles you need to know about kid behavior. Once you know these principles hopefully you’ll be convinced that you can make a major difference in your child’s attitude and behavior.

Most behaviors …

1. Are learned. Some behaviors may be influenced by biological factors, but most are learned. That means parents make a huge difference in how their kids turn out.

2. Can be changed. Most behaviors can be changed by using solid research-based techniques.

3. Need intervention. Don’t expect your kid to change on his own. His behavior will most likely only get worse without your intervention, and then it will be even tougher to change.

4. Take time to change. Behavior change takes time: usually a minimum of 21-days of repetition.

5. Require commitment. Long-term commitment is necessary for any meaningful and permanent change. There’s no getting around it: parenting is tough work.

6. Must have a replacer or substitute. No behavior will change permanently unless you teach your kid another behavior to replace it. Think about it: if you tell your kid to stop doing one behavior, what will he do instead? Without a substitute behavior, chances are he’ll revert to using the old misbehavior.

7. Require a good example. Behaviors are learned best by seeing it done right. So make sure your behaviors or examples you provide are ones that you want your kid to emulate. I call that the “Boomerang Effect”: what you throw out to your kid is like a boomerang that comes back to hit you in the face.

8. Demand practice. Behavior change requires practice. So practice, practice, practice the new behavior with your child until he can do the new behavior on his own.

9. Benefit from encouragement. Behavior change is hard and deserves to be encouraged, acknowledged and celebrated. Encourage every step along the way. In fact, the fastest way to change behavior is by acknowledging what your child did right so he’ll be more likely to do know what to do to act right.

10. Are never too late to change. Even if the problem has been going on a long time, don’t despair. Help is on the way. 

For specific solutions to the top 101 parenting challenges, new parenting responses to troublesome behaviors and specific “replacer” skills or substitute habits to teach your child, refer to The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries. Once you have the book in front of you, flip to the table of contents, choose ONE issue only, and quickly review the behavior signs to help you determine the severity of the problem in Step 1. Next, go to Step 2, find the new parenting response that works best for you then consistently use it with your child. Finally, please don’t forget to review to Step 3: find the one new habit you want to teach your child to replace the inappropriate one and don’t stop reviewing that new substitute behavior, until you reap real and lasting change you hope for in your child. Voila! You can do this!!!