Review: “Living With Children”

April 25, 2012 at 12:36 pm , by Alyce Wilson

Living with ChildrenLiving with Children by Gerald R. Patterson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A friend gave me the 1974 edition of “Living with Children: New Methods of Parents and Teachers” by Gerald R. Patterson and M. Elizabeth Gullion. She told me that she found it useful while raising her own daughter.

The simple concept behind this book is to use operant conditioning to change troublesome behaviors. The book offers multiple examples of types of behaviors that can, the authors say, be altered by using rewards and punishments.

Some of the advice in this book is clearly outdated, but the basic tenets behind the book are sound. The book recommends finding a way to count or quantify the troublesome behavior and to use a systematic reward system to develop positive behaviors, instead. I’ve seen similar techniques used on the ever-popular “Super Nanny” shows, where parents are instructed to put up star charts and to give children stickers for positive behaviors such as putting toys away.

It’s certainly a technique that is worth considering, although operant conditioning may not always be the perfect solution for every problem.

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