How to apply behavioral-modification techniques to help parents deal with “the common challenges of child rearing.”
In contrast to his earlier book, Kazdin (Psychology and Child Psychiatry/Yale Univ.; The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child, 2009 etc.) focuses on concrete tools and strategies for dealing with “routine everyday life behaviors that are challenges to most parents most of the time”—e.g. maintaining a regular schedule, doing chores, behaving appropriately to siblings. For working parents, these situations frequently escalate, becoming increasingly stressful and difficult to handle. The author combines practical suggestions and anecdotal accounts of their application by families attending the Yale Parenting Center, which Kazdin directs. These are tools adapted from successful management techniques. The first step is to clearly define the goal and then mold the desired behavior in a step-by-step process that provides incentives and appropriate rewards. The author emphasizes that what happens before a parent makes a specific request “greatly affects the likelihood that the [desired] behavior will occur.” Then, it is necessary to break down the desired behavior into components, with rewards attached to each. Kazdin gives the example of eating vegetables at dinner. The bar is set low by rewarding a child for simply putting a vegetable on his plate without eating it. Then it is raised by requiring the child to place a sample on his tongue, and so on. A key part of his system is positive reinforcement of good behavior, rather than punishment for bad behavior. In the case of stopping bad behavior, another trick is to look for a specific positive alternative to the undesirable behavior.
A useful guide to eliminating stress, improving communication and providing a more nurturing family environment.