Originally Posted by tadamsmar
A parent who reacts to to hitting/kicking/biting by with explaining, face-time, attention is engaging in inadvertent conditional parenting. For some reason, parents who read the UP book come away with the message that praise is the only reinforcer. Praise is not the only reinforcer. Attention, explaining, facetime are reinforcers. You get more of what you pay attention to.
The timing is the issue. What you do immediately after an unwanted behavior is important. Face-time, explaining, attention immediately after an unwanted behavior conditions the kid to engage in more of that behavior.
I disagree with this. It's very behavioristic. Children are young humans who are acquiring language. If you "ignore" them in the way you're describing, it's a form of punishment. It's basically a form of time-out that people who like Unconditional Parenting
are trying to avoid. Removing your attention to not reinforce a bad behavior is--punishment.
Which might be fine for parents who find this method of withdrawing reinforcement effective to stop the behavior, and who don't mind punishments that are non-violent. I do not think it's consonant with Alfie Kohn's book, though.
I also disagree with this because I think all interactions with children at this age should involve some talking. This is when he's acquiring the habits of language acquisition.
When my son was three, he was not very rambunctious, but he did have a tendency to bite us when he got really excited. (He did not bite or in any way hurt the cat, because the cat we had back then wouldn't have tolerated that.) We did get up in the kid's face and very quietly tell him not to do the thing. I believe we used phrases like, "There's no biting," and "We use our teeth for eating food, not biting." That worked very well. It's probably not the ultimate best method, but it does have the advantage of demonstrating that parents can use their words. For other, less painful behaviors (!) we did much more talking than that.
It's not just the language acquisition issue. You want him to use words, so you use words. Be brief. Yes, three-year-olds are self-centered, but a phrase like, "In our family, we're gentle with animals," can be really effective, because you know that you're going to hear it back from him.
It's very difficult for a three-year-old to control himself. Whatever strategy you adopt, you will have to keep doing it, because he's not going to stop doing whatever it is after one iteration. (Even if you punish him!) He will outgrow being three.