I like to peruse deal sites that sell things like ruffly bloomers and other essential parenting items. The other day I saw a “wheel of consequences” for sale on one of my fave sites. Of course it was super cutesy, but the idea is to write in punishment options and when your kid misbehaves, they spin the wheel. Whatever punishment choice it lands on is how they pay the piper. Now they called the options ‘consequences’ but if it is something aversive that comes following a behavior, anyone in the ABA world knows the correct word is ‘punishment’.
Seeing this adorable wheel of unpleasantry made me feel pretty sad for those kids. And those parents. Why so much focus on the bad? Why so much effort on punishing? I mean they made an adorable wheel that people are paying good money for! What the what?! I found one for TWENTY DOLLARS online. $20 to punish your kid in a cute format. Yowza.
How about instead we create a wheel of reinforcers? A wheel of rewards? When your child engages in desired behaviors, they earn reinforcement. You then spend your time, your energy, and maybe even some of your hard earned moolah on positive things!
Do you have to spin the wheel for every good behavior your kid engages in? No. But you could focus on the behaviors you are really trying to increase right now.
Is your kid refusing to eat vegetables? Reverse that wheel of consequences/ punishment. INSTEAD of punishing them for NOT eating, how about rewarding them for eating a certain amount of those delicious veggies?
Is your kid refusing to follow directions and being defiant? Reverse that ugly wheel. INSTEAD of punishing them for not listening, reward them when they do listen and follow through on what you’ve asked them to do.
Choose the desired behavior to replace the problem you’re having right now. Teach your child the replacement behavior REINFORCE that desired behavior.
Let’s shift from focusing on the punishment (aka ‘consequences’) and focus on building up those positive behaviors!!!
Need more ideas for using behavior analysis in your mommy role? Check out my book- Parenting with Science: Behavior Analysis Saves Mom's Sanity.
Leanne Page, MEd, BCBA