Archive | Behaviour Change

How to instigate behaviour change – your child’s, your own, and other people’s!


Good parenting is an artful mix of loving, responsive, sensitive caregiving on one hand, and discipline, raising expectations and teaching new skills on the other. Both are needed. Many of our stuff ups as parents can be understood as getting the mix wrong. Maybe we realise that we expected far too much of our child […]

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You may have heard that when your child is distressed you should be responsive: responding in a compassionate and caring way.  You may also have heard that you should reflect back to your child their feelings or their desire (‘you are feeling sad’ or ‘you’d really like that ice-cream’) and problem-solving the situation with your […]

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The consistency myth

Everyone knows that parents need to be consistent.  But what exactly does being consistent mean?  The trouble is the word ‘consistent’ conjures up images of parents rigidly acting in the exact same way, following exactly the same detailed rules, inflexibly sticking to the same script day after day.  It suggests that one deviation, on one […]

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As a behaviour change tool, punishment has its limitations.  Before I tell you why I need to bore you with some technical definitions.  The word punishment usually means a penalty or a negative experience imposed on someone when they are guilty of wrong doing.  Within behavioural science, punishment is a technical term meaning any event […]

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Parents may use behavioural parenting strategies such as logical consequences or praise, but use them from a standpoint of dispensing justice. They may even take a punitive approach, believing that if a child has done the wrong thing then they deserve to be punished, to suffer for their wrong doing.  Or they may simply believe […]

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Weathering the storm

Has this ever happened to you?  You realise that you need to take a new approach as a parent.  Perhaps you realise that you’ve been accidentally rewarding a particular behaviour with your attention or just that the come has come to be firm about something.  You think through your new approach and you are confident […]

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Shame is that sinking feeling, which may be accompanied by sadness, fear, anger or disgust, along with a sense of your own unworthiness and lack of worth in the eyes of others.  Shame is often accompanied by a tendency to behave in a submissive way, that is, a shamed person is likely to try to […]

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Reinforcement, the strengthening of behaviour through the consequences of that behaviour (reinforcers or reinforcing stimuli), is a key psychological concept, one that has been applied widely in homes, schools and workplaces.  Reinforcement has entered into our popular culture.  It is common to hear non-psychologists talk about the importance of reinforcing particular behaviours and the strategies […]

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