There are ways to use rewards that will work with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and difficult children, but it is not the way it is usually taught.
Most parenting programs use rewards as a tradeoff. You encourage good behavior by buying it. This works with some kids, but just not a child like yours.
But there is a very effective way to use rewards even with ODD children.
Here it is….
Rather than using rewards as a trade off, you can use them as a way to reinforce good behavior once it occurs.
Here is how it works:
Let’s say you are running behind and you need to get dinner ready and fold the laundry, but there is just not time to do both.
Cindy, your preteen daughter is around and doesn’t appear too busy. But Cindy doesn’t like folding laundry. However, you happen to know that there is a certain DVD she wants you to rent.
So you can approach this two ways.
The first is the straight reward for compliance approach.
“Cindy, I really need help with the laundry. I’ll tell you what. You know that DVD you want us to get? If you help me out by folding the laundry I’ll call Dad and ask him to pick it up on the way home.”
There it is, a straight business deal. Now Cindy has to decide if it is worth a DVD to bother with the laundry or if she would rather do something else.
Here is the way you can use rewards to help you.
The same scenario but this time your approach is a bit different.
“Cindy, I am really stuck. Your father is coming home soon and need to get dinner on the table. Would you be able to take a few minutes and help me by folding the laundry?”
Here you are making a plea for help. You are making a one time request, appealing to your child’s sense of good and giving her the chance and the choice on her own to be the hero.
It is much more likely that she will help than in the first case.
When Cindy finishes you say to her,
“Cindy, you’re a life saver. I really appreciate you coming through for me when I need you. I want to do something nice for you. How about it if I call your father and ask him on the way home to pick up that DVD you wanted to see?”
Here is the major difference between the two approaches.
In the first case, the DVD is the pay off. It is a straight business deal.
Whether Cindy says yes or no, it is a cold calculated decision based upon her perceived value of a DVD.
It will have no ramifications for future compliance except for the fact that you have fixed the price of laundry folding to be one DVD.
You will not get away with less than that ever again.
In the second case, you also paid for her help. But you bought it with your appreciation.
Now appreciation is a wonderful thing. You feel great when you give it. Your daughter feels wonderful when she receives it and at the end of it all you feel closer to each other.
You should be ready to pay your daughter with appreciation all day long.
The DVD became a token symbol of that appreciation, but it wasn’t the currency.
In addition to receiving the appreciation and the DVD, Cindy might begin to realize that when she obeys you and helps you, that on occasion she might receive surprise gifts.
She is much more likely to help in the future because there will be a big emotional payoff and an occasional tangible surprise.
Plus, if you couch your request in such a way that it makes her feel good about helping and lets her be in charge, it no longer becomes a question of who is in control or who is the boss.
If you use this very simple approach slowly and often, then you will see some really big changes in behavior over a period of time.
But more than that you will strengthen your relationship with your son or daughter, which is a reward for both of you.
This is something that neither one of you can buy.Tweet Follow @akanemd
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