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Behavior Makeover Basics

Ten Behavior Principles You Need To Know

Since you have bought this book, let's assume things haven't worked as well as you'd hoped in changing your kid's behavior. It's time to try a new approach. We begin by reviewing a few basic principles of Behavior Makeover 101.

Most behaviors . . .

  1. Are learned. Some behaviors may be influenced by biological factors, but most are learned. For instance, the shy kid can learn social skills to become more confident in groups, the aggressive kid can learn anger management skills, and the impulsive kid can learn skills and techniques to stop and think before acting.

  2. Can be changed. Most behaviors can be changed by using proven research-based techniques.

  3. Need intervention. Don't expect your child to change on his own. His behavior will most likely only get worse without your intervention. Also, don't think poor behavior is just a phase that he'll outgrow. You're just providing more time for your kid's bad behavior to become a habit, and then it will be even tougher to change.

  4. Take time to change. Behavior change takes time. Don't expect your Saturday night lecture to make more than a dent in your kid's behavior on Sunday. Give you and your kid time. Remember that learning new behavior habits generally take a minimum of twenty-one days of repetition.

  5. Require commitment. Long-term commitment is necessary for any meaningful and permanent change. There's no getting around it: parenting is tough work.

  6. Must have a substitute. No behavior will change permanently unless you teach your child another behavior to replace it. Think about it: if you tell your kid to stop doing one behavior, what will he do instead? Without a substitute behavior, chances are he'll revert to using the old misbehavior.

  7. Require a good example. Behaviors are learned best by seeing it done right, so make sure your own behaviors or examples are ones that you want your kid to emulate. I call that the Boomerang Effect: what you throw out to your child is like a boomerang that comes back to hit you in the face.

  8. Demand practice. Behavior change requires practice. You'd never tell a child to go out to throw a pass at a game by just handing him a football when the game is just starting. You would first have helped him practice for weeks before that. The same is true for learning any other new behavior, so practice, practice, practice until he can do the new behavior on his own.

  9. Benefit from encouragement. Be encouraging every step along the way: from the willingness to try, the first efforts and small successes, the recoveries from setbacks, to the maximum amount of improvement. Behavior change is hard and deserves to be encouraged, acknowledged, and celebrated.

  10. Are never too late to change. Even if the problem has been going on a long time, don't despair. Help is on the way.

Next: Page 4 >>

From No More Misbehavin' by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2003 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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