Articles for Professionals
As the new year is beginning, many of us begin to think about what changes we can make in our lives. Parenting is such an important job, and we often hope that we are being the best parents we can be. Punishment for misbehavior comes so naturally to us. We barely even think about it in part because our brain is hard wired to pick up negative behaviors (not listening, arguing) and do something about them, much more than it is to notice positive behaviors (following directions, playing nicely) and do something about those. Despite our inclination, punishment is not very helpful in accomplishing our goals as parents (or in society) when that goal is just to get rid of some behavior. Maybe the single [...]
Clinicians working with families and children are often faced with the tall order of helping improve school problem behaviors. It is a long school day with many factors and many different people involved. One way to tackle this seemingly impossible task is to use the very effective tool of simulation. Simulation involves role-playing a scenario, rather than just talking about it, with a child in which they handle a problem well. The key in this is to be sure to praise and reinforce this role-play immediately. You can use this technique in your session with the child, however, it will only be helpful if it is practiced repeatedly. Teach the parent how to conduct these role-plays at home with their child between your sessions. The [...]
Summer is a great time to brush up on your professional skills. Let's review a key concept of Parent Management Training that you can use with all the parents you see. Praise!! When you teach parents to effectively praise their children for behaviors they would like to strengthen, be sure the following components are included. Be specific - tell the child exactly what they did that was good Be close - go into the same room as the child when you are praising Use touch - high-five, hug, kiss, pat on the back, or fist bump each time Be immediate - praise right after the positive behavior Be enthusiastic - sound super excited Make sure you practice this skill with the parents rather than just [...]
A common concern of parents is that their child is engaging in too much video game or TV time. Many families have televisions, computers, tablets, and video game systems in their homes to complicate the problem. When working with families to structure screen time, don't advise them to take all of it away, rather work with them to use shaping to reduce it. Slowly cut back on time. Once the child is successfully able to stick with the designated block of time, you can reduce it slowly. Teach the parent how to reinforce the child for turning off devices calmly at the designated time. They should praise enthusiastically and use a small reward each time the child succeeds. You will need four to six days of success [...]
Myth: The therapist should focus on and problem solve what the parent is doing wrong in order to change it. When working with parents of children with behavioral difficulties, you may want to hash out some things that the parent is doing wrong and try to fix those things. A better way to help is to find some things that the parent is doing well and work on strengthening those. For example, if a parent is sometimes praising a child for good behaviors, that is something to focus on. Let the parent know how great this is, practice effective praise in sessions with him or her, and work on increasing this praise at home. This is how you will create change for the whole family!
In sessions, emphasize a team approach and how great it is that they are both attending sessions. Interrupt all arguing and blaming in session and prompt for only saying positive things about the other. Praise parents for remaining calm and saying positive things about each other in the session. Set up similar point charts in each home to reinforce positive behaviors in children. If it isn't possible for both parents to get through a session calmly, ask that they decide which one of them will participate. PMT will still be effective if you only train one parent and sessions will be more productive without the arguments.
“The Kazdin Method® is a great opportunity for nurses, pediatricians, psychologists, social workers, teachers, or anyone who has the capacity to connect with the parent of a child who has behavioral issues. Proven techniques are perfect for professionals who may be struggling with their own client’s success but has not been trained in Kazdin’s PMT.”
— Dr. Alan E. Kazdin