seen on Good Morning America
The Kazdin Method®
for Parenting the Defiant Child
no pills, no therapy, no contest of wills
The Kazdin Method®
was honored with the Self-Help Seal of Merit
award from the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive
"This book is THE place to look for evidence-based advice
about how to become an exemplary parent." --Martin E. P.
Seligman, Ph.D., author of The Optimistic Child
"Though Kazdin's approach seems complicated at first, his
easygoing and often humorous tone gently guides readers
through an array of problem scenarios, including bedtime,
tantrums, grocery shopping with a younger child, getting
ready for the school day and homework. The author promises
long-lasting results for a temporary investment in his
practical, positive method; parents may be well rewarded if
they give it a try." --Publishers Weekly
The best way
to eliminate an unwanted behavior is to build a strong
alternative behavior in its place, what's called the
of the unwanted behavior.
The Kazdin Method® provides step-by-step instruction
in how to do this under almost any conditions.
If your child has horrible tantrums or just mildly
intolerable ones, if your child does not do homework, or
does not listen, to take three common examples, the method
gives you a reliable and research-proven set of moves you
can make to address the problem in the home, or wherever it
method guides you in defining the behavior you want and then
creating opportunities for your child to repeatedly practice
it--working up to it by increasingly closer steps, if
the method shows you exactly how to reinforce good behavior
with good consequences without throwing rewards at your
There is no
magic to the method.
It takes root in decades of accumulated research on
how to develop positive behaviors, eliminate undesired
behavior, and achieve greater peace in your home.
It will change not only your child's behavior but
your own, giving you a structured repertoire of parenting
moves that will allow you to stop falling back on the usual
nagging, endless explaining, threatening, yelling,
harsh punishments, and the like.
In the book, I first identify the myths that guide
most of our parenting and then move on to show you, in close
and systematic detail, exactly how to use point charts and
rewards, manage conflict-inducing routines (like getting to
school on time), get control of misbehavior in public, deal
with those hard-to-define problems like "bad attitude," use
punishment well (that is, sparingly, mildly, and
effectively), work with more than one child, deal with
infrequently occuring but sometimes serious problems, and
more, lots and lots more.
I also discuss how to troubleshoot and improve a
program that isn't working as well as it should, how to
extend good behaviors to new situations, how to deal with
parenting stress and household chaos, and how and when to
seek professional help.
I recognize that there's an overload of
parenting advice out there.
Part of the problem facing a parent, in fact, is that
there is so much advice, it's often contradictory, and most
of it lacks any support in serious research.
With professional experts of all kinds promising that
their way works, with friends and friends of friends telling
you stories about how so-and-so's kid was turned around by a
new parental strategy or miracle diet or whatever, it's hard
to figure out what actually will work for you and your
There is a way to establish
what actually does work.
It's called science.
Over the past few decades researchers have been
quietly pressing forward in the effort to understand child
development, childrearing, parent-child-interaction, and all
sorts of other matters that converge on your child's social,
emotional, and behavioral adjustment.
Within the extensive research on human behavior in general, there's a
great deal that tells us specifically about the behavior of
may be surprised to hear that scientists have studied the
most effective way to give a command to a child, or that
they have rigorously compared the effectiveness of rewarding
good behavior and punishing misbehavior.
There are even studies that tell us very specific
things like, for instance, the most effective way to speak
to a child when asking her to do something she'd prefer not
to do: brush her
teeth, wear a jacket, get off the phone, or go to bed on
very few parents have the time or training to get up to
speed on the latest research in psychology, not to mention
child development and neurobiology and all the many related
fields. But they
can benefit profoundly from what researchers in those fields
My method for changing your child's
behavior is based on good science--on what we currently
know about children's behavior
from the results of sound, well-conducted studies.
I do not offer impressionistic beliefs or unsupported
opinions about childhood.
In the book I'll tell you something about the
research and basic principles that underlie this approach,
so you get a sense of
why it works, but my emphasis will be on
what to do and how to do
One great virtue of the method is that
the same principles and techniques apply to the full range
of situations for children of all ages.
I'm talking about everything from the milestones of
normal child development--eating, toilet training, sleeping
in one's own bed, not having tantrums--all the way to
clinically severe behaviors like fighting, stealing, lying,
The method has been demonstrated to be effective in the
usual slightly harried home situation and in much more
difficult home ones.
As long as you are committed to systematically taking
this approach to changing the behavior of your child, even
an imperfect and partial application of the method produces
First, you must shift their own focus
of attention. As
parents we tend to be experts on what we want our kids
to do. For
example, I want him to
stop whining, talking back, and ignoring me.
I will teach you to focus more positively on what you
do want your kids
to do--When it's bed
time, I want him to go directly, quickly, and quietly to bed--and
give you the tools to systematically reinforce that behavior
until it replaces the behavior you don't want.
You'll learn how to build up the
behaviors you want:
how often your child must practice the good behavior
in order for it to take, how to set up situations so that
the behaviors you'd like to see are much more likely to
occur, how to create more chances to practice, how to praise
most effectively, how to set up and give rewards that work,
how to get from the desired behavior never happening to
seeing it happen a lot, how to troubleshoot and improve a
program that's not working well enough.
I will have much to tell you about the details,
because they can make all the difference between success and
When you commit to positively
reinforcing the behavior you want, you can be kinder to your
child while being more systematic.
We tend to fall into a trap of believing that getting
serious about behavior problems means getting negative:
more punishment, tougher standards, "zero tolerance."
But positive reinforcement requires a very different
kind of effectiveness from a parent:
better praise, more purposeful rewards, greater
attentiveness to a child.
It draws you and your child closer together as it
makes you a more effective parent.
Parents who use my method often find
great relief in discovering that getting down to business
doesn't have to mean bearing down even harder on their
more effectively gentle and positive with your child doesn't
mean being spineless.
The reverse, in fact, may be true.
Flying off the handle, perpetual anger, shouting,
hitting--those are the truer signs of a defeated,
Positive reinforcement tends to calm a household
because it offers clear, attainable objectives for parents
and children alike to aim for in shaping behavior.
My method does not require a life-long
program you'll set up for changing your child's behavior
works like a frame you place around a growing plant to train it up
straight and healthy.
The plant is better behavior, and once it can stand
on its own you'll take down the frame.
You will not be awarding tokens or keeping track of
In fact, most parents find that such concentrated
interventions take effect very quickly and can be largely
discontinued after a relatively short time, like a month or
intention here is that you build the frame of this method
around your child's changing behavior, but that once the
desired behavior takes deeper root and gains in vigor, you
quickly scale down the frame and then take it down entirely.
Published by Houghton Mifflin, Co.
Published by Mariner Books
Parent Management Training
Treatment for Oppositional, Aggressive, and Antisocial
in Children and Adolescents
hardcover/424 pp.; 3 line illus.