Produced by Gary Drevitch
Best child-training news of the month: We've got Little Guy, all of 19 months, handing us our towel as we exit the shower in the morning. It's great start to your day–makes you feel like Gene Hackman in "Superman."
YOU'RE TELLING US WE CAN'T EVEN YELL AT FELLOW WHEN WE CATCH HIM EATING A BOWL OF RICE WITH HIS HANDS? THAT'S A TOUGH SELL
Alan E. Kazdin of Yale's Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic tells readers of Slate this week the secret to getting kids to stop their bad behaviors and do what you want them to. After reminding readers how poorly most adults respond to being yelled at, or talked to death, he recommends a third way:
You begin by deciding what you want the child to do, the positive opposite of whatever behavior you want to stop. The best way to get rid of unwanted behavior is to train a desirable one to replace it. So turn "I want him to stop having tantrums" into "I want him to stay calm and not to raise his voice when I say no to him."
Then you tell the child exactly what you would like him to do. Don't confuse improving his behavior with improving his moral understanding; just make clear what behavior you're looking for and when it's appropriate, and don't muddy the waters by getting into why he should do it. "When you get mad at your sister, I want you to use words or come tell me about it or just get away from her. No matter what, I want you to keep your hands to yourself."
Whenever you see the child do what you would like, or even do something that's a step in the right direction, you not only pay attention to that behavior, but you praise it in specific, effusive terms. "You were angry at me, but you just used words. You didn't hit or kick, and that's great!" Add a smile or a touch—a hug, a kiss, a pat on the shoulder. Verbal praise grows more effective when augmented via another sense.
It's just crazy enough to work . . .
METHODOLOGY NOTE OF THE MONTH
The Wall Street Journal's Science Journal reports on a study showing that our attraction to baby faces may be hard-wired in us:
"It suggests we are probably all hard-wired to respond and care for babies, to help us perpetuate the species," said Oxford child psychiatrist Alan Stein, who helped conduct the experiment. "The response to an infant face is too fast to be under conscious control."
We were not at all surprised by that conclusion, and you're probably not, either. But we were amazed by this note on the methodology of a related face-recognition study from Japan:
Yoichi Sugita at Japan's Neuroscience Research Institute raised infant monkeys for two years without ever showing them a face. Lab workers wore hoods. When faces were finally revealed to them, the monkeys could readily tell them apart, Dr. Sugita reported in January in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
April 17, 2008 | Permalink |
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It is specific species that recognize faces. Dogs recognize and can read emotional expressions from human faces. Most animals cannot. Cows recognize individual humans from traits like their gait.
Posted by: Rick Ritchie | Apr 21, 2008 12:50:55 PM
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