ways to improve parenting.
BY AMY NOVOTNEY
Search for parenting books on Amazon.com, and you get tens of thousands of titles, leaving new parents awash in a sea of often conflicting information. But
thanks to the accumulated results of decades of empirical
research, psychologists know more than ever before about what
successful parenting really is.
The Monitor asked leaders in child psychology for their best
empirically tested insights for managing children’s behavior.
Here’s what they said.
Simply put, giving attention to undesired behaviors
increases undesired behaviors, while giving attention
to good behaviors increases good behaviors, says Alan
E. Kazdin, PhD, a Yale University psychology professor and
director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic.
“When it comes to nagging, reprimand and other forms of
punishment, the more you do it, the more likely you are not
going to get the behavior you want,” says Kazdin, APA’s 2008
president. “A better way to get children to clean their room
or do their homework, for example, is to model the behavior
yourself, encourage it and praise it when you see it.”
But parents shouldn’t offer that praise indiscriminately, says
Sheila Eyberg, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of
Florida who conducts research on parent-child relationships.
Eyberg recommends parents provide their children with a lot of
“labeled praise” — specific feedback that tells the child exactly
what he or she did that the parent liked. By giving labeled praise