Ok, here's a situation and quote from the book.
Background: Dobson describes a scene between an 8 y/o boy, Henry, and his mother. The mother starts nagging Henry at 8:30 that he must pick up his toys and go take his bath. He knows from experience that she doesn't actually mean *right now* so he continues playing. She gets more and more aggravated with him, and it's clear from their interaction (Dobson even says this) that she has not been consistent in the past, so he doesn't stop playing until she gets red in the face and yells. Then he slowly picks up and goes to the bathroom. Dobson comments that the mother and son both know the script - she nags, he ignores, she gets mad, he finally complies. The son knows he doesn't have to do anything until mom gets really pissed.
Then Dobson says...
|She can never count on instant obedience, because it takes her at least five minutes to work up a believable degree of anger.
Note: instant obedience. Dobson believes that parents should expect this from their children. When I say jump, you ask how high. This isn't limited to certain urgent/emergency/safety situations, this is always about the parent being in charge and making the plan, and the child going along with the plan.
|The use of rewards or "positive reinforcement" is discussed in the next chapter...but minor pain or "negative reinforcement" can also provide excellent motivation for the child.
Snarky comment: this is not actually what psychologists mean when they use the term "negative reinforcement". But we'll leave Dobson's misunderstanding of psychology alone for the moment. For now, he wants to teach parents how to inflict "minor pain" on their beloved children for the sake of getting them to do what they want, when they want it:
|...Mom or Dad should have some means of making their youngster want to cooperate...I will suggest one: it is a muscle lying snugly against the base of the neck...when firmly squeezed, it sends little messengers to the brain saying "This hurts: avoid recurrence at all costs." The pain is only temporary; it can cause no damage. But it is an amazingly effective and practical recourse for parents when their youngster ignores a direct command to move.
He then goes on to describe how the mother in the first scenario should give Henry a 15 minute warning, then set the timer, then tell him to clean up and go take a bath. If he doesn't do it immediately, she should put the Vulcan neck pinch on him.
I've had this done to me. It is indeed a strong motivator to figure out FAST what you did to result in your parent doing this to you, and you do indeed refrain from doing it again. But not because you've suddenly become a better, more responsible person - no, you avoid doing it again because you FEAR your parent. Nice. That kind of fear becomes pervasive.
He never once suggested that the mother get down and play with Henry, or help him to pick up his toys, or otherwise find a way to understand him and motivate him to take a bath. There is no proactive parenting in Dobson's book that I can see, only reactive parenting. Praise/reward "good" (obedient) behavior, punish "bad" behavior.
There's more, but it's pretty much the whole book and it would go against the UA to reproduce the entire book here.
It's pretty poisonous, plays into parents' frustrated desire for control of their kids and "good", compliant children. Dobson makes snide comments about more gentle methods and his comments indicate, to me at least, that he doesn't actually understand the philosophy behind them. He regards GD to be lazy, permissive parenting. My mom did, too. Still does. Strictness is good, being flexible with your kids is letting the enemy win. Maybe that's the saddest thing of all, this philosophy relies on seeing your child as the enemy to start with.