Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Gimme, gimme, gimme and Behavior Modification

You know I like Boston Legal. I just love to watch really, really insanely old people like William Shatner and James Spader aging gracefully (Candyce Bergin does not age) . We all have our ups and downs.

But to be honest, this season had been terrible until tonight. Yet I kept watching.

You know how it is when it seems a television season has really gone down the tubes and you're considering Just Not Watching That Show Anymore, but you do it anyway? It's like we're rats in a maze going for the cocaine.

You might do it too, keep turning on the same disappointingly bad show, hoping for a good one each time. And then, just when we can't hold out any longer for a good plot (or just plot), something to hold our interest they throw us a crumb, a really good show.

Fine. You don't do this? You're a better person. But for the rest of us drones,

You think the networks don't know this, that we'll watch anyway?

It is the essence of conditioning. Why should they have to put out a great show every week when they know we'll be back for more regardless?

What it should mean to young parents is that all you have to do is reward your kid on occasion for being good. If a kid can't predict when he'll get his candy, he'll keep at it (behaving) until he gets it.

Let's take the case of the grocery store.

Say you have an 18 month old. Start your kids really young, by the way, as soon as they're aware of the concept of GIMME. As in, gimme, gimme, gimme, buy me, buy me, buy me.

Surely you have heard that mantra.

You tell the kid:

When we go into Jewell (Albertson, Walmart, whatev) :

MAYBE if you're good, I'll buy you something.

MAYBE NOT. But you have to be good anyway. If you're bad FOR SURE you won't get anything. Not here, not now, not never.

If the kid is good this first time, he gets the toy. The next time you give the same rap. Emphasize the MAYBE part. Repeat it several times.

Probably the kid will be good. But DON'T reward every time. It's okay. Basic trust does not depend upon this.

Oh, sorry honey, I can't get you the toy this
time. Not enough money. But probably the next time, I will.

The next time comes around. The kid is good. You buy the toy.

Repeat again. And again. Until the kid is about 30. Don't buy just because he's good (like that's gonna' happen every time anyway). Buy to reinforce. Erratically. Shake it up, make it unpredictable.

Like the networks do.

Life isn't fair, okay? Best to learn young.

Copyright 2007, TherapyDoc


socialworker/frustrated mom said...

There is Berenstein Bears book of the Gimmies. Good point!

therapydoc said...

I just never liked how it was drawn. Mama bear, first of all, should not have worn blue. It wasn't her color, you know?

Anonymous said...

I'm so bad with kids--I'm a total sucker when they start demanding things.

You know, I really enjoyed him in BL before, but I can't watch James Spader the same way anymore after seeing Secretary. THAT movie was definitely, well, something. Ever seen it?

therapydoc said...

Never saw it. Am pretty quick to turn things off if they're disturbing. Is there something educational in it?

Craig Harper said...

Hey Doc,

thought I'd take a look at your site. .. great work. Keep it up, love what you write. All the best from the Land Down Under.

( )

therapydoc said...

Thanks Craig. Have to go there (Australia) one day!

Margo said...

It wasn't the blue. It was the ginormous polka dots that did Mama Bear wrong.

therapydoc said...

the polka dots were too big. it's true. whenever i think about it there's nothing about that illustration that worked for me, which is bad, bec i had to read it about a thousand times. if i had it to do over again, that wouldn't have happened. kids don't have to have their requests, right, if the request is in the garbage can?

Anonymous said...

Being consistently inconsistent, it does work!
We are so easy to play, are we not?

Emily said...

But I thought pareting was all about bribery (be good here and I will give you this), lies (santa, tooth fairy, etc) and corruption (doe eyes ruin boundaries)!

therapydoc said...

That, too.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Sometimes dog training and kid living works hand in hand. In dog training, this is called varying the jackpot.

Appreciate the very real advice and ideas you share.

M said...

We do it the exact same with our dog. Hey, it's all just basic psychology and training. I'm not equating pets to kids, but there are many parallels as well.

He gets the treat some times, enough times to let him know the action is one we want and encourage and enough to keep it a motivator for him, but also not every time because he has to recognize that he also needs to be good and follow commands because he is asked to and not only because he will get something out of it.

Like kids, pets need routine, consistency, clear expectations, lots of love, play, exercise, healthy food, boundaries, and hugs!

And just like it is with kids, the joy of having pets around is worth every ounce of effort we put into their care.

Jean said...

great post.

What's Going to Be with Our Kids?