Sunday, October 14, 2007

WWBD (What Would a Behaviorist Do?) Vol. V

Dear Behaviorist,
I just can't figure out why my children constantly find themselves in the principal's office. They go to an afterschool homework support firm, play soccer for the local and traveling teams, play an instrument, and belong to the youth group at church. Occasionally they complain that they are tired, but whenever I see them they are always giving it their all. I am so proud of them! I tell them this all of the time. I tell them that they are great soccer players, that they are gifted musicians and that they are incredibly bright children. What could possibly be wrong? My husband and I have devoted our entire lives to their success. I don't know what we'll do if we have discipline issues on our hands. This could affect their ability to take part in the traveling team. Help!

Devoted Soccer Mom

Dear DSM,
Take a step back from your hectic life and think for a moment about why your children have snapped. Could it be your own insecurities being played out through their success? Could it be the intense pressure you have placed on them to perform? Could it be as simple as a lack of sleep? I think it is a combination of the three that is the antecedent to the anger outbursts happening at school. Ask yourself this question, when was the last time you asked your child what they would like to do? Or here's another one, do you have any interests of your own other than your children? Placing unrealistic expectations on children can cause large amounts of stress for both them and yourself. My suggestion is this, Try a little negative reinforcement (not the same as punishment). Relieve them of their pressures for a week. If they appear happier then the removal of the schedule is a negative reinforcer, telling you that you have removed the negative stimulus. Let me know what happens. I'll just bet that they will enjoy lowered expectations, but will surprise you by showing what their true interests are. Happy dribbling!

The Behaviorist


anandamide said...

Dear Behaviorist,

This is just so much namby-pamby, liberal teat-sucking.

DSM, if you want your kids to snap into shape, do what I do. Get out your cross bow. Don't point it at them, but when they ask what you're going to be hunting, say "couch potatoes". That'll do the trick.

Ted Nugent.

Tenacious S said...

Ted, we try to extinguish behaviors, not children.

anandamide said...


That's the problem with America today.


kirby said...


So I've Been Laid Off said...

the trick is to introduce the kids to coffee -- and the parents to quaaludes -- much earlier in the process. lock the child in the van if the situation gets dicey. and mom needs a boyfriend.

Tenacious S said...

Kirby-Nice evil laughter.
Laid-I like the locking in the van idea, but maybe its the parents that should be locked in the van in this situation.

Phil said...

Maybe the school is wrong?

Bubs said...

I like the coffee/ludes idea.

Beth said...

Ugh. I would hate to be a kid today with all that scheduled activity. The best part of my childhood was just being outside, playing with my best friend, just being a kid. I understand that kids can't be let loose these days, but they need some unstructured time. That's how I raised my cats, and they're doing quite well.

Grant Miller said...

I;m so happy my kids are devoting their entire lives to my success.