Mr A is taking a class right now on Applied Behavior Analysis/Behavior Modification (I can't remember the name of the course). Lo' and behold, I'm finding myself immersed in his textbook, seeking answers to my own parenting queries.
Parenting and discipline books have their place, but I am totally jazzed about the scientific/nerdy academic approach presented in this course. Have I thought about collecting baseline data before I decide whether or not to enforce "time-outs" with Ikaika? OF COURSE NOT. ...but I should have!
Really, collecting data and determining behavior function will only increase the chances of my chosen method of discipline's success. So why I am I just frustrating myself by randomly dishing out "no!"s and "don't do that!"s?
What I found most interesting was the "Arranging Consequences That Decrease Behavior" chapter that basically said "presentation of aversive stimuli" (or "punishments" as we know them) are the absolute last resort and truly aren't even appropriate or effective in a professional setting. I sat and contemplated this for a moment. I am quick to overcorrect, yell at, spank, isolate and chastise ("naughty!" "pilau!") my child - but I would be HORRIFIED, livid, appalled if I heard that a school professional were using these methods to modify his undesirable behavior. Why would I expect more from them than myself?
So, as a little experiment, I am going to use the DRI method (differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior) and see how that works. I want Ikaika to pay attention and sit down next to me during circle time at Tutu & Me instead of running around. I am going to take baseline data on Tuesday then use food as reinforcement. My goal is to get him sitting in the circle for the full 30 minutes before the end of the year. Can it be done? According to the research - yes!
I find that even with this example, I am describing his behavior as "not listening" or "rowdy" or "not sitting still" instead of using any kind of concrete observations (stands up and walks around every X minutes). I don't even really know how often he does it! I just know it bugs me. Oh behavior modification - you give me chicken skin with excitement!