Children’s behavior problems

January 31, 2010

Most parents just ask that their children do as they are told. Easier said than done! Some children easily comply, some children occasionally comply and some children rarely comply. The yelling, fighting and punishing that is employed can have a negative impact on the parent-child relationship and also on the parents’ ability to influence their child. Additionally, if one child has behavior problems, all the other children in the family will be affected. Treatment can help both parents and children learn a new way to live together.
“Behavioral Management Systems” is an approach that has been used with children and adolescents with problem behavior. This approach holds that children and adolescents learn best when parents include them in the problem-solving process. There are four major behavior management systems, each of which is described briefly below (summarized by Dr. Dan Fallon):
1. Rationales: Verbal explanation
•    Verbal dialogue with child
•    Listen to understand your child’s thoughts and reasons
•    Recognize and appreciate your child’s feelings
•    Explain your reasoning
•    Describe your values, the `why’ we must do things this way

Example: “We do not hit other people. When we have problems we say `Mommy, I have a problem. Can we have a talk?’ People are not for hitting. People are for talking with.”

Example: “Doing your homework helps you build your brain muscle. The more we build our brain muscle the more we’ll be able to solve problems. The more we solve problems the happier we will be.”

Example: “It’s important to say how we are feeling. Sometimes I need to just sit down with your Mom/Dad and tell her/him how I felt during the day. Happy. Sad. Excited. Scared. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I laugh. It’s good to do this with each other. How was your day today? How did you feel?”
2. Behavior Shaping
•    Increases or decreases the frequency of specific behaviors

Example: Bedwetting (decrease)

Example: Verbal abuse toward sibling (decrease)

Example: Talking (increase) instead of tantrums (decrease)
•    Improves child’s sense of “I did it on my own!”
•    Increases self-esteem (for both parents and children)
•    Reinforces each successful accomplishment.
•    Operant conditioning, i.e., the child is in control of gaining and keeping privileges / reinforcers
•    Does not punish or disparage when the child does not perform desired behavior
3. Point and Level System
•    Children control their behaviors; parents control privileges
•    Improves child’s sense of “I did it on my own!”
•    Increases self-esteem (both parents and children)
•    The children don’t like `limits’ (who does?) but they typically respond very well
•    The parents have to `unlearn’ punishment strategies and `learn’ to make privileges contingent upon good behavior
•    Operant conditioning, i.e., the child is in control of gaining and keeping privileges / reinforcers
4. Out of Home Placement
•    Residential treatment facilities
•    Juvenile justice system
•    Psychiatric hospitals

Hoover & Associates’ team of licensed psychologists, counselors, and social workers is here to offer you help and guidance. We’ve been providing mental health services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago since 1985. We’re conveniently located at 16325 S. Harlem Ave., Suite 200 (2nd floor), Tinley Park, IL, 60477. Our offices are conveniently located near Orland Park, Orland Hills, Homer Glen, Mokena, Frankfort, Matteson, Country Club Hills, Flossmoor, Homewood, Hazel Crest, Markham, Oak Forest, Midlothian, Crestwood, Palos Heights, Palos Park, and Palos Hills. Call to make an appointment: 708-429-6999.