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Old 01-12-2012, 02:47 PM
 
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First off, excellent post, I really enjoyed reading it.

Quote:
Good question re: "meaningful." I guess what I meant, operational definition-wise, is how salient (strong) the consequence (in this case, just meaning the effect in a cause and effect relationship) is as a motivator. As an example, I love chocolate - if you want to reinforce me, give me chocolate! Is this arbitrary? Yup. Will I work hard to get it? You bet. And now for the exception: if you have been reinforcing me with chocolate all day, I might decide I'm full and not really willing to do much work to get more. At that point in time, chocolate is no longer a salient reinforcer for me. It might be again for me tomorrow, but not in this moment. You can substitute just about anything for chocolate (arbitrary or not) - praise, a feeling of accomplishment, playing a favorite game, making someone else smile, having a clean living room, a sticker on a chart, ad nauseam.
I think this is a good description of what effective "motivators" are. The key is to finding out what the individuals motivators are and more importantly what they are in an individual situation/scenario. The "chocolate" can be many things and it's important to realize that it won't work in every situation. "Chocolate" on a scale of 1-10 may cover those issues through level 8, but there are 9 and 10 scenarios where "chocolate" ceases to be a motivator.

Quote:
I think some of the terms (like consequence, punishment, reward) have taken on a life of their own in the vernacular that were never intended in the theory.
I agree 100%. I think many times when people want to illustrate a point that they are reinforcing, for example as an author in a book would do, they begin drawing distinctions between words that essentially have the same meaning and that causes the words to take on a life of their own. Within the macro concept the words are meaningless and are just being used as stand-ins to draw a distinction between divergent ideas. The ultimate extension is when use of these words begin to take on different meanings to different people depending on the definitions they have been exposed to, which just tends to cloud the conversation. It happens all the time in academia.

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I don't want to make assumptions about how you view behavior modification, so this is just the "general you": frequently my clients entered treatment with the idea that behavior modification strategies were very rigid, punishment oriented, rule-governed, robot-child/person creating strategies. IMO, nothing could be further from the truth. A solid behavior modification program seeks to "channel" what motivates a specific person to help that person engage in prosocial behaviors (or get rid of problematic behaviors), giving the person a way to think about "if I do X, Y will happen" (developing the ability to guess what is likely to happen and adjust our behavior accordingly, which I might lump under "judgment").
Precisely, the goal is to cultivate judgement, or to equip a child with the knowledge that there is cause and effect. This is a very abstract concept especially when we start talking about particular examples. The ultimate effect of every cause is not readily apparent, yet we need to teach our kids that these abstract causes do have an effect. This knowledge fosters them to begin questioning "what will happen if I do this"? Even then that concept can take a long time to mature. Think about it like a Chess game, a beginning player can only anticipate a move ahead, but an advanced player can think many moves ahead.

An example of this would be a child climbing up the counters to get a cookie. They think, well what will happen if I climb up the counter? Oh, I get a cookie. It takes a long time before they begin to realize that climbing up the counter means they might fall and falling means they could get hurt and getting hurt might be a serious thing. Not to mention anything about the cookie spoiling their dinner, or that those cookies are being saved for a special occasion, etc. An older child understands more of these effects and an adult most likely understands and conceptualizes all of them. An adults brain IS different from a childs in its capacity to do that. The issue then becomes providing them a "motivator" to not climb the counter that outweighs the reward of getting a cookie while simultaneously explaining why. Now, the why won't sink in right away. It needs to be repeated over and over and over again until they understand it fully. In the meantime we use something to discourage it that is easier for them to place as the negative effect and that has to be carefully chosen.

Quote:
Again, it can be an intrinsic punisher, like feeling badly if I hurt someone else's feelings, just as easily as it can be an extrinsic punisher (adding an aversive consequence). Intrinsic motivators tend to be more powerful - one way (but not the only way) to foster them is to apply extrinsic motivators first (paired with the intrinsic motivator) until the intrinsic ones "take hold" on their own.
I think this last part is very important in terms of the discussion of the thread to this point. Some children are going to respond very favorably to the intrinsic motivators, while others need the extrinsic motivators to compel the expected behavior. It will also be very situational as well. In my case I view the use of extrinsic motivators to serve as a bridge to get to the point where the intrinsic motivators are able to provide the desired effect. The extrinsic motivators also help with the understanding of the cause and effect relationship, as highlighted above, in order to take an abstract effect and make it simpler to understand. For instance, a young child may not understand that falling off the counter they are climbing in could result in a broken arm. They can however understand that climbing on the counter will result in say, a time out.

To me throughout the process I am trying to get to the point of them understanding cause and effect and use intrinsic motivators as much as possible. The extrinsic motivator really is the last resort, but it is the safety net or scaffold/bridge to get to the end point. Getting there without the extrinsic motivator is possible for some kids, but not for all of them and yes I suppose it is "easier" on mom and dad as well.
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:06 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somebodynew View Post
Yes!



mmmmm I have been using incorrect language. I have been educated to what behaviorism means. Thanks for that.
You're welcome - thanks for listening to me ramble on about it a bit.

I think the language piece is hugely confusing! As NJGoat pointed out, authors and academics are famous for muddying the waters. And heaven knows, we can't explain to our 3 or 8 or even 12 year olds in the language I was using and expect them to have the vaguest clue what we're saying! (*picture kids with glazed over eyes hearing Charlie Brown teacher voice*)

I am just going from memory here, but am I correct in saying you believe it is important to parent heavy on the positive reinforcement, limited on the punitive, giving kids the opportunity to figure out what motivates them, pointing out or letting them experience the effects of their choices, and helping them to see the impact they have on others/world around them? I may be leaving some stuff out (and please feel free to correct if I've gotten it wrong), but despite our different ways of talking about discipline, I think we have quite a bit of overlap in what we are hoping to achieve with our kids. I'm not sure if you'd agree, but I am interested in learning.
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Old 01-12-2012, 04:07 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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NJGoat -I owe you a big ole response that I can't write right now, but firstly, thanks, and secondly, I think your post is dead-on.
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:11 PM
 
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The OP listed excellent components of a discipline strategy. Not only is that great for children but it would also demonstrate that the parents are competent.

I do agree that consequences for testing boundaries is very important, even though it was left out.

While I might say to another parent, "she is testing me" I don't see it as a challenge. Rather I see it as an opportunity for her to get to know me and for me to get to know my daughter. And I believe, Charlottegirl said something along these lines, everybody has different limitations. BTW, I don't believe she is permissive.

That doesn't mean I use different consequences or more positive consequences than anybody else on this thread. It doesn't even mean that I have a different outcome.

All it means is that is what I say to myself so that I don't take things so personally, to keep a cool head, to listen and adapt if needed and, most importantly, to maintain the high expectations that I expect of my child. I agree with the OP. It wasn't my daughter, it was me!
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:15 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crisan View Post
The OP listed excellent components of a discipline strategy. Not only is that great for children but it would also demonstrate that the parents are competent.

I do agree that consequences for testing boundaries is very important, even though it was left out.
It was left out as it was covered like crazy in other threads. It is a crucial piece. But in my opinion, for many parents, the ONLY piece.
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by somebodynew View Post
It was left out as it was covered like crazy in other threads. It is a crucial piece. But in my opinion, for many parents, the ONLY piece.
I understand. I think the important thing to notice with you and all of the posters who have contributed on this thread is that nobody is taking it personally when a child tests limits.

At least that is the feeling I get.
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crisan View Post
I understand. I think the important thing to notice with you and all of the posters who have contributed on this thread is that nobody is taking it personally when a child tests limits.
That is a rather interesting point. I think some people DO. (No notion whatsoever about the crew on this board, mostly levelheaded folk.) And, in my opinion, testing limits is their JOB. It is a crucial part of them exploring the world in which they live. Reacting to it in that way makes sense.
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:39 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somebodynew View Post
That is a rather interesting point. I think some people DO. (No notion whatsoever about the crew on this board, mostly levelheaded folk.) And, in my opinion, testing limits is their JOB. It is a crucial part of them exploring the world in which they live. Reacting to it in that way makes sense.
IMO, it is not just about exploring the world but how relationships are formed.

I read once in my AP group message board that creating boundaries is not as important as how you communicate them.
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:24 AM
 
11,230 posts, read 9,275,917 times
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Originally Posted by eastwesteastagain View Post
You're welcome - thanks for listening to me ramble on about it a bit.

I think the language piece is hugely confusing! As NJGoat pointed out, authors and academics are famous for muddying the waters.
It isn't muddying the waters. It is being accurate with precise language. Sometimes complex concepts require vocabulary. Don't apologize for having a strong vocabulary! There was nothing confusing in your post.


Quote:
I am just going from memory here, but am I correct in saying you believe it is important to parent heavy on the positive reinforcement, limited on the punitive, giving kids the opportunity to figure out what motivates them, pointing out or letting them experience the effects of their choices, and helping them to see the impact they have on others/world around them? I may be leaving some stuff out (and please feel free to correct if I've gotten it wrong), but despite our different ways of talking about discipline, I think we have quite a bit of overlap in what we are hoping to achieve with our kids. I'm not sure if you'd agree, but I am interested in learning.
That doesn't really sum it up. I would say my position on discipline, if I were to try to sum it up, is

- focused on a goal of SELF discipline, not good behavior.
- is comprised of a package of important sub-goals and tactics of which consequences is a critical component, but only one component. Without the other components, consequences risk building resentment not cooperation, and risk yielding an attitude of what is in it for me, will I get caught or am I willing to pay the price. This is rules based behavioral compliance, not self discipline. Thus not the goal.
- the understanding of being responsible for one's actions is best achieved by consequences that are natural or directly logically related to the action not because it is happy sweetness and light that doesn't hurt poor little Johnny's feelings. But because it is effective without distracting the child with feelings of resentment, resistance, anger and hurt feelings. It makes it harder for the child to deflect responsibility and m akes it easier to own responsibility.
- has more to do with the child and what they need to learn than the nature of the behavior or "infraction".

It is difficult to sum up succinctly. Which is why the OP was so long!
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Old 01-13-2012, 09:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by crisan View Post
IMO, it is not just about exploring the world but how relationships are formed.
This is actually pretty important. One of the reasons I sought an alternative to the way I was raised was a conversation I had with my mother. She told me that kids need to be afraid of their parents. Fear keeps behavior in line. (At first I was like, OMG she was doing that ON PURPOSE?!?) Then I thought, well that did not work for ANY of us. We just learned to hide from you effectively. And then I thought I want my children to TRUST me not fear me. I want them to be able to come to me to help them solve their problems. Not live in fear of both their problems and the mother who would not help solve them as I did!
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