How To Get Your Kid To Stop Screaming
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Kids can do all kinds of things to drive
you nuts. How do you get your kids to stop screaming? So way back in shrink
school, I learned a lot about behavioral psychology and I got to tell you about
this because in one of my classes, behavioral psychology from Dr. Paul
Robinson, I come in the first of the semester, I sit down with all of my
colleagues were in a doctoral program and he announces to us that our grade
will be based on a final exam, the final exam will be taken by a chicken and then
he handed us a chicken, little baby chick and my lab partner and I, Dr. Mark
Normand, a neuropsychologist in San Diego, we both passed the class. We got this
little chick and we had to train this chick over the course of the semester to
perform certain tasks, to turn this way or to turn that way or to rotate her, to
peck a little disc in a box. We had to train it to do all of these things that
were on the final and if our chick failed,
woody failed. Well we both passed the class but I learned a lot of things from
that chicken. Behavioral psychology is pretty simple, simple enough that a
chicken can learn these things. No, your kids are very different from a chicken
but some of the principles are very useful as we try to answer questions
like how do I get my kid to stop screaming? How do I get my kid to start
cleaning his room? Or how do I get my kid to do his homework? All of these things
can be tied back to some basic behavioral psychology principles that
I’m going to share with you next. So if you look at the board, there are two
basic ways to change behavior. I’ve written reinforcement on this side of
the board, punishment on this side. Now punishment has kind of bad reputation
out there but you’re going to learn some things about punishment today that will
help to bring that into perspective. These are simply two different ways to
change behavior. On the up and down side here, I’ve put a green plus sign
and a red minus sign. Positive and negative, plus and minus, I’m going to tie
those together because that would be important. We can have positive
reinforcement and we can have negative reinforcement. Now by negative
reinforcement, I don’t mean bad reinforcement. You know I’m the
positivity guy. I just mean minus, okay. We’ll come right back
to that. Punishment, we can have positive punishment. Huh? That sounds weird. I’ll
explain that or negative punishment which doesn’t mean bad punishment, it
means minus. So thinking about the plus and minus as adding, subtracting. So if we
look at them as math symbols, it’ll make more sense. Now before we get into that,
here’s a quick definition of reinforcement and punishment.
Reinforcement increases a behavior, in other words, if you want to see more of
it, you reinforce it. Got it? Some of the behaviors your kids have you want to see
more of, right? Or some of the behaviors you haven’t seen yet you’d really love
to see more of. We’re going to reinforce those. Punishment decreases a behavior.
Now I know both of these words have a reputation, let’s just simplify it and
say reinforcement increases behavior, we’re going to do that if you want to see
more of it, punishment decreases behavior, we’re
going to do that if you want to see less of it like misbehavior or screaming or
begging or whining. Okay, you with me? Let’s look at the plus and minus now, the add
or the subtract. Positive reinforcement, it’s when you add something in order to
increase the behavior so you’re going to add something they like so this is a
payoff, this is like that the reward for what they’re doing so you’d give them a
treat, you give them a sticker, you give them something that they want. See, your
adding something that’s a positive
reinforcement and it’s tied to the behavior that you want to increase. You
with me? This is a fun game. Negative reinforcement, remember, negative doesn’t
mean bad, it means subtract, you’re going to take away something in order to
increase a behavior. What are you going to take away? You’re going to take away
something they don’t like in order to increase some behavior. You know what?
Kids are really good at this one, whining for example, okay. When your kid is
whining, “Oh please. I want this.” or begging right? Pretend like you’re at the store.
“Oh please, will you buy me some candy? Please. Will you buy me some candy?”
Do you like the whining? No. What’s the kid trying to do? Well, the kid’s trying to
get you to buy him the candy, right? What does the parent do? Finally they’re like,
“Oh fine. Here just take it.” They buy him the candy. What does the kid do? Negative
reinforcement, they take away something the parent doesn’t like in order to
increase the behavior of buying the candy. Brilliant. We can do it as parents
too but what we’re taking away is something that the kid doesn’t want in
order to increase the appropriate behavior. Let’s go over to the punishment
side now. Okay, now punishment isn’t a bad thing, remember punishment is just
something that decreases a given behavior. So in positive punishment, we’re
going to add something and because we want to decrease the behavior, we’re
going to add something they don’t like. So this is where you give them something
that they don’t want as a result of whatever behavior you’re trying to
decrease. Treking all this? For example, extra chores. Do they want extra
chores? No but a positive punishment would be to add something that they
don’t like in order to decrease any particular behavior.
Okay, so they act up in some certain way, they get extra chores. That’s an
example of a positive punishment. What about negative punishment? Remember,
negative doesn’t mean bad and neither does punishment. Negative means minus,
subtract. So we’re going to take away something that they do want in order to
decrease a behavior. Got it? Taking away something that they like is an example
of a negative punishment and common examples of that are taking away access
to games for example, electronic gaming systems.
Alright, that’s something they do want and to lose that is a negative
punishment because it takes away something that they like. Now why did we
go into all this detail about behavioral psychology? Because you’ve got a lot of
tools as a parent. Now let’s go back to our first question, how do you get kids
to stop screaming or whining or begging? These are things you don’t want to see,
you want to decrease that behavior so you’re going to use punishment in order
to decrease that behavior. If it’s something we wanted to see more of, which
one would we pick? Reinforcement, exactly. That’s why it’s important to understand
the behavioral psychology. Now which punishment would be most
appropriate to decrease the screaming or the whining or the begging that you’re
hearing from your kids? Here’s another little piece of child psychology, see if
you can figure out why they’re doing it. Now you’ll hear all the time “Oh, they’re
doing it for attention.” Well are they? Maybe. Often it gets them what they want,
often they’re putting that in there so that they can use negative reinforcement
on their parent to get you to do something that they want you to do and
they’ll take away the whining as soon as you do it, it’s not fair, is it? But we’re
going to turn the tables and make sure that we understand the behavioral
psychology so that we can help our kids to have more appropriate behavior.
Usually, for something like screaming or begging or whining, we want to use a
negative punishment by taking away the thing that they want in order to
decrease that behavior. Basically you’re taking away the payoff. What if they’re
doing it for attention? You may have heard the saying “Bad breath is better
than no breath at all.” And for kids, that’s probably true, they want to have
that attention even if it’s not positive attention so taking away the payoff
is what often is going to decrease that behavior. You take away your
attention to it, you simply ignore it. Now here’s what’s tricky about that, it’s
called the extinction curve. This is another thing I learned from a chicken.
The extinction curve is when you start to ignore something, a behavior, you take
away the payoff for that behavior, the kids first thought is, “Oh my gosh. I must
be losing my touch. I better turn up the volume.” So they turn up the volume on you,
it gets worse at first. What if you cave in right then and give them what it is
that they want? Well that’s a reinforcement to them, they’re getting
something that they want, they’re more likely to do that behavior again.
You got to outlast among this, sometimes that behavior will increase before it
drops off. Be consistent, hang in there, you’ll see that, yeah, it’ll
increase a little bit and then it’ll drop off because they’re not getting the
payoff for that behavior. Hopefully that gives you a few ideas of what you can do
about the screaming, the yelling, the whining, the begging, behavioral
psychology that will give you some good tools as a parent. Wow, that’s a lot of
behavioral psychology today at Live On Purpose TV. Hopefully you’ll find that
useful and maybe you know somebody else who would benefit from this, please share.

39 thoughts on “How To Get Your Kid To Stop Screaming

  1. in a nut shell……. my 8 year old has not been so good despite using your advice, no offense. I think with him it will take longer is all. I told him 2 weeks ago if he for the most part is good we will this Friday go to mini golf. well he was not. now he get a consequence of some sort with every bad behavior. and lost going to mini golf. I question if I overly punished him so to speak, because he gets a consequence for every time he is "bad" plus loosing mini golf. Friday his school is out, and it happen to be my b-day so I was really looking forward to it. I try to be god with fallow through of what I say, but some fear I may have gone to far, or maybe I have not. my mom of 4 is not sure either. we rarely do to finances have to funds to do anything together. there are other things to do there also.

  2. Hey Dr. Paul, i love your videos and I'm learning a lot. Thank you so much for making these awesome videos and please don't stop making them. I'm a single parent and I've been diagnosed with bipolar depression a few months ago. My son is almost 3, and i get frustrated sometimes because he's so active. Watching your videos teaches me how to become a better parent. I'm so glad I came across with one of your videos. Again, thank you so much! God bless you and your family.

  3. Hi. Please give advices on how to manage discipline in overcrowded classrooms. Your clips n advices are very informative …thanks

  4. You are amazing!!! I have been binge watching your parenting videos the last two days lol. My husband and I have a 7month old son 😍 our first. We love looking up parenting tips and everything. At a young age I decided to learn everything I could to make sure my future children would be raised well!!!! With mine and my husband's childhoods, we know what not to do. Your videos are a blessing- YOU are a blessing, so thank you very much for spreading your wisdom 😄
    I do however, have only one issue. You said to subtract something the child DOES want in order to decrease a behavior. That seems backwards to me, because that would enable the child to think materialistically. They would begin to think the only way they will be happy is to have that specific item(s).
    What are your thoughts on this?? Are there alternatives?? Is this something I should worry about as a parent??
    Thank you Dr. Paul!!!

  5. Excellent video.. We are trying but yeah.. I think we need to out smart our child…. I would like add one input for all new parents.. identify these behaviours and train your self before your child turn 1.5 yrs.. also after that also as a start.. pls write all bad behaviours and your strategy on paper…..

  6. What if one kid screams at the other for teasing? I don’t know how to get my kid to stop expressing their anger at a sibling by screaming. What would you suggest?

  7. Ugh.. I tried each and every one of them.. My 4 year old is just not attached to anything at all.. If I say "okay, I'm taking away your phone until you learn to talk nicely to your sibling and your parents". He says "okay"
    If I say "if you hit your sister one more time, you'll have to clean up your entire room without my help" He says "okay mom"
    I'm like wth

  8. Thanks, very insightful. Makes perfect sense, but i imagine it will not be as easy in practice. Wish my parents knew this tho!

  9. Hi I wonder if you have a video on how to help my child to keep their hands to themselves I'm really having problems with my four-year-old daughter her preschool teacher keeps telling me that they have a problem with her keeping her hands to herself and I tried it here at home as well but she just doesn't care about anything she tells me okay whatever like I don't know what to do.

  10. Dr. Paul…I have 6 yr old girl in Gr2. Lately, at bedtime, she will not let me go and will follow me out of the room or start engaging with her older sister. If I take myself out of the bedtime routine is this considered Negative Reinforcement…taking something away that she likes? She doesn't want her Dad to tuck her in, so if he does will the behavior stop? If so, when do I go back to tucking her in? If she starts again, do we go back to Daddy tucking her in again? It seems obvious but I need to know I am on the right track here. Thanks.

  11. can u please make a video about how to be more patient or how to keep myself calm even when my kids are driving me nuts.or how to be mad but not react like if iam.

  12. Nearly eleven minutes AND YOU DIDN'T GIVE ANY EXAMPLES!  EXAMPLES ARE EASIER TO REMEMBER THAN PLUSES AND MINUSES.  I take it that you don't 'treat' kids for a living, you're just big on psychological theory, right?

  13. This is kinda off topic but my partner believes using food as a treat for good behavior like a reward is a bad thing.

    I disagree but I was raised differently, like if I didn't eat all my dinner then I didn't get a piece of chocolate/icecream (when it was an option/being offered).

    But I'm not a professional on this stuff, so I was wondering what your opinion on using edible treats as a motivator/incentive for them to do something is?

  14. My neighbor has a 12 year old that rises up and down the street screaming. It's NOT happy kid screaming. It is blood curdling. The mother does NOTHING.

  15. Whenever I take my child out maybe a mall, he will running and screaming, showing that he is happy to be out , what do i do? He is 20 months old .

  16. Thank you SO SO much Dr Paul for the positive parenting playlist! It has helped immensely with my 3yrs old kid. I was completely ignorant about dealing with kids, because before my own child I have never been around one. Everything was amazing until the 2 years showed up and I lost patience and interest in playing with my child. There would always be a conflict and a bad behaviour somehow. I'm so thankful that I discover your channel just in good time to change things around! I gotta say, I just need to try the things you say for few days and it works like a charm 🙂 Thanks again, I have forwarded this playlistlist around!

  17. does the positive punishment work for toddlers between 3-5yrs? i find me most of the time negotiating….."do this or you wont get that !! you dont do this then you wont get this !! " and honestly i feel i m always dealing with an International delegate………………….always on negotiation.

  18. Interesting take on this. I wonder how many other parents including myself didn't realise that the kids use psychology on parents

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