Ignorance in parenting

post by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-03T10:00:18.863Z · score: 13 (17 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 46 comments

Contents

  Possible alternative strategies:
None
46 comments

Followup to: Strategic ignorance and plausible deniability

My in-law always says: "For children it is easier be forgiven then to get permission." 

EDIT: This post is superseeded by my Book Review: Kazdin's The Everyday Parenting Toolkit I recommend reading only that. The remaining insight of this post is: Children expend more brain power on their parents than the parents on them. 

Kaj_Sotala wrote

Parents may also pretend that they don't notice their kids engaging in some minor misbehavior, if they don't want to lose their authority but don't feel like interfering either.

I can say from experience: That is risky.

Children (esp. small ones) expend significantly more brain power on their parents than the parents on their children (your mileage may vary). I can assure you that they will notice these cases - at least some - and take that into account one way or the other.

If the children notice this they may assume that you either condone, accept, bear or ignore it. None of these has positive effects.

Possible alternative strategies:

I am influenced by The Adlerian School. Of relevance here is Striving for significance.

The testing of limits and the resulting interaction with the parent give the child a feeling of significance if the parent acknoledges the act of the child even if he doesn't agree with it. On the other hand ignoring the act of the child is negative feedback about significance.

EDIT: The asymmetry between parents and children with respect to the effectiveness of deniability can be generalized to any situation where one actor has significantly less overall information about the situation than another actor and thus might not be able to reliably estimate whether deniability is possible.

ADDED: tadamsmar  pointed out that ignoring is scientifically known to be effective and the advice or rather personal expierence I have related in this post may be contraproductive (at least if applied in isolation). 

46 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by someonewrongonthenet · 2013-09-03T20:17:34.915Z · score: 12 (14 votes) · LW · GW

The core problem here is that the child is behaving in a way that you do not want them to behave in.

I find that the best way is to treat them like foolish and inexperienced adults from the start. What do you do when an adult does something that you don't want them to do?

-"Please don't do that" -"why not?" -explanation

You'll have to engage in a debate now, much as you might with a spouse or roommate. If the child has a convincing argument, then allow yourself to be convinced. If the child's preference is strong, consider a compromise. Obedience isn't the goal here - the goal is to create an effective and autonomous person.

If you find that the behavior is really, truly unacceptable, you pull out the trump card: "If you do X, I will be sad and disappointed in you." Don't overuse this - it's actually very distressing to a child (Imagine if a friend or SO said that to you). Only use this when you would actually be sad and disappointed, or you will come across as emotionally manipulative and possibly transfer that behavior to the child.

And if that doesn't work, there is really nothing you can do, and it might be time to instill more coercive measures. However, do consider that most psychologically normal children will feel emotionally compelled to remedy the situation, in order to retain good standing within the tribe. The fact that they still aren't listening means that they've got a severe emotional pull in the other direction, and you've trapped them between a rock and a hard place. Assuming a child has no mental abnormalities, you should consider the notion that your demands might actually be unreasonable.

The main trouble with my approach is that parents are often old and tired people, who are unable to sustain debate with energetic children. I see older parents try this approach, and find themselves consistently losing arguments because they are too impatient to finish them...which is when they switch to lazy shortcuts, such as playing the part of an authority and placing external consequences on behavior.

I've got no idea how to deal with the problem of limited parental energy, other than recommending that those who are suffering from it take measures in exercise and nutrition to improve their mental and physical health. Just consider though - if this were an adult, you'd have to do it the hard way. You couldn't just impose your will. Imposing your will is cheating.

Disclaimer - I haven't raised children - these are just my interactions with parents, interactions with children, and a fairly recent experience of childhood. Also, among the people who i know that have what I judge to be healthy attitudes towards morality and authority most report being raised in this sort of way (not sure if cause or effect - it's possible that the type of child you have influences your parenting style).

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-03T21:36:10.278Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

A long comment and one that seems to draw conclusions that are not really supported by my too short post (I really shouldn't have posted in Comments). But the comment poses a few point's I'd like to address.

The core problem here is that the child is behaving in a way that you do not want them to behave in.

Wanting the child to do something is one reason. Concrete needs another. You wouldn't disagree that I'd need to call back a small child from a high traffic street or a cliff or a dangerous animal or a poisonous thing. These are immediate and obvious.
How much time to take with a child that want's to pick up stones when you are on the way to kindergarten or the job is a moderate need you have to balance your own desires with the childs. Maintaining a household with six persons can mean one does everything or all share a part of the work. And there are lots of differnt ways to achieve some balance of needs in this. But whatever the balance is - it involves certain feedback. Talking alone will not do it - although it is necccessary to establish a context.

the trump card: "If you do X, I will be sad and disappointed in you."

I can't use that. First of all it would be a lie. I wouldn't be sad or disappointed. At worst I would ask me what I did wrong in the first place. Second I can't bear applying emotional pressure. Third I have seen it used on my children and it didn't work.

The main trouble with my approach is that [...] older parents try this approach, and find themselves consistently losing arguments [and then] switch to lazy shortcuts, such as playing the part of an authority [...]

Sure that is a way out that sometimes has to be taken - because sometimes you are tired and the smaller children need to sleep because they don't understand that they have to go to kindergarten the next day early...

And I have lots arguments with my older children and not played the authority card. I accepted that I erred.

One problem with arguments with children can be that they want to win and use all the rhetoric tricks they have at their disposal. They didn't read EYs posts on the dangers of rhetoric and fully general counter arguments. An argument with a child isn't neccessarily a harmonious thing. At least not when a significant issue is on the line. You will not resolve such an issue with patience. I try often enough. And I can 'win' by patience. Once I lost an hour of range and no agreement in the middle of the day while three other children were unattended.

Just consider though - if this were an adult, you'd have to do it the hard way.

The hard way with an adult would often enough mean to go different ways. That is an option that is closed for parents. Both by their affection toward their children as well as by our society.

these are just my interactions with parents, interactions with children

Interacting with other persons children is quite different from with your own. And exactly beause they are not yours. You can send them back to their parents and they can go back their parents and in such a situation they basically behave like autonomous persons (if they feel safe but aduls also have to feel safe).

comment by westward · 2013-09-04T17:25:29.173Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

It's important to recognize that not all children respond to the same incentives.

I have a parentally anti-authortarian master game theorist for a six year old whose "natural consequences" are often disastrous. It takes a lot of finesse to manipulate him. A combination of honest, fun engagement and honest, threatened punishments. That's not a necessary or desirable response to other children though.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-04T19:23:02.595Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

That sounds familiar. I have four of these but at least it is not that disastrous mostly. Threatened punishments don't really work. I can't use them. I'm not behind them and if I must it dosn't go well. My wife does sometimes and it works - but not for long. Finesse with incentives and patience work best. But these require resources that are not always avilable.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-09-09T18:04:53.269Z · score: 2 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Wanting the child to do something is one reason. Concrete needs another. You wouldn't disagree that I'd need to call back a small child from a high traffic street or a cliff or a dangerous animal or a poisonous thing. These are immediate and obvious.

But there are still parents who handle those occasions just fine without resorting to punishments and rewards. My parents never seriously resorted to modeling my behavior though behavorism.

It may be that you lack a relationship with your kids where that's possible. Especially if you already have rules that get enforced through punishments and rewards the kid will rightly assume that a new rule that isn't enforced that way isn't serious and the don't have to follow.

I think it's very hard to talk about something like parenting because different parents have success with different strategies and most think that their own experience should be guiding for all. It's like politics in it's mind killing potential.

comment by DanArmak · 2013-09-04T18:20:35.274Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If the child's preference is strong, consider a compromise.

If you mean strong in comparison with your own preference that they don't do that, I don't think that would work. It would just incentivize the child to always have very strong preferences. To want that they want right now very strongly. The child would become a little utility monster.

Theoretically it might work if you mean "strong compared to the child's other preferences". Then you might tell the child, "if you eat this icecream, your belly will hurt later". But children do much more time discounting than adults, so that's hard too.

comment by Lumifer · 2013-09-04T18:42:09.100Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If you mean strong in comparison with your own preference that they don't do that, I don't think that would work. It would just incentivize the child to always have very strong preferences.

I think it should mean "If your estimate of the child's preference is strong, consider a compromise".

comment by DanArmak · 2013-09-04T18:56:05.629Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sure, but how do you define or measure an estimate of the child's preference strength, when the child is incentivized to represent all preference as maximally strong?

comment by Lumifer · 2013-09-04T19:10:10.235Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Experience :-)

comment by James_Miller · 2013-09-03T14:58:58.196Z · score: 10 (10 votes) · LW · GW

Children (esp. small ones) expend significantly more brain power on their parents than the parents on their children

Brilliant insight!

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-09-03T15:14:31.579Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Not unless it's qualified with "... in relative terms, in absolute terms a small fraction of 'brain power' that parents do invest can easily outweigh a child's much larger fraction". Different underlying hardware.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-03T15:20:29.902Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Sure. In situations where parents have more experience link e.g. traffic or super markets. But not where children have comparable experience like creating or getting away with some mischief. Some parents remember their own childhood. But for most of us this lies in the dark before memory or before the significant restructurings during puberty.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-03T20:36:18.760Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I model my daughter's creativity in this manner upon my own. It's been a pretty reliable model so far.

comment by shokwave · 2013-09-04T05:08:00.646Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Possibly you are more experienced than the average parent at creating and getting away with mischief. This is probably a good thing, actually, since most people are far less mischievous than they should be.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-04T06:47:52.656Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

My mother is most heartily enjoying grandmother's revenge.

comment by Kawoomba · 2013-09-03T15:47:38.533Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Well, some of us remain more mischievous than others, and social competence / ability to pick up on cues increases from childhood to adulthood.

I find overestimating children to be wrought with dangers of its own, similar in magnitude to underestimating children.

comment by Baughn · 2013-09-03T16:30:03.336Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

It's also very hard to avoid - hard to avoid doing both simultaneously, even.

Watching my own nieces, it's struck me that different parts of their minds are maturing at different rates. It's not just that children are any fixed amount less intelligent than adults, and there isn't even a similar vector of factors for different children - children actually acquire capabilities at different points in time, even when they're genetically similar.

So niece A was better at math at twelve than B was at fifteen, vice versa for boating skills, vice versa for impulse control...

It comes down to personality differences, but they're affecting what we'd consider basic cognitive skills in ways you just don't see in adults.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-04T06:52:25.185Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Observing a child develop is a marvellous lesson in the incredibly fragmented nature of what we so blithely simplify into the label "intelligence"

comment by byrnema · 2013-09-03T20:23:53.970Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

Our philosophy is a bit different. One of our goals is to optimize our children's success in the 'real' world (perhaps this is yours too) and we prefer natural consequences when possible -- in cases where the natural consequences are tolerable.

The real world is not terribly consistent and in their socialization, children need to learn a lot about navigating complex social rules that do vary from context to context, and which are not always explained explicitly. We are fairly attentive parents (though perhaps inconsistently so!) and we notice if a child seems to need more structure or something explained explicitly, but if they are doing fine we let them be and are more natural ourselves.

My older daughter has considered it important to follow all the rules, and has begun asking me recently about why her sister gets away with breaking them so often. So I have talked with her about concepts such as plausible deniability, etc, and explain to her the best I can what our different motivations are for the different rules. My younger daughter seems to understand all this more naturally, and has a much better handle at a younger age of which rules can be broken, in which contexts. (To give some concrete examples, if the TV can be turned on some time later without asking if we said no more TV a while ago, and if its OK to do that annoying thing when I am in a good mood.)

I feel my older daughter is currently learning the lesson that there are not that many 'stickers' for following all the rules, and usually the consequences for breaking a non-sacred rule are pretty light, and can be weighed in the balance of things.

I'm concerned that your parenting style might lead to children that are less flexible, and they will need to learn later how to navigate breaking rules?

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-03T21:52:29.345Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Again you infer too much from my isolated remark that it be risky.

Please please don't draw conclusions too quickly. I know we extrapolate from any single bit of information to the whole picture. There must be a link here on LW about it. On my side I promise I will not post such isolated statements again.

To get back to your point. We prefer natural consequences too. My wife is better at it then I am. She immediatly has a consequence at hand that mostly does work. But then she has the plan for the day. A long time ago I agreed that we establish the same rules and back each other on decisions made by the other. But often enough I find myself in a situation where I have to back her - but don't know to what end. That places me into a situation where I am bound to fail.

As for the riskyness of the approach. I'd like to just point out the logical consequences: If you establish a rule (e.g. because if all follow the rule that will have positive effects for all) and then do not perform your part in supporting this common cause and instead look away then the same will happen as in any social group where social norms are not followed: the rule will weaken and possibly fall below a level where its usefullness gets negatve. If you want to maintain the rule you should better invest sufficient continuous energy to keep the rule adherence at a level where it is useful instead of letting it slip and then invest significant energy into getting it back.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-09-09T12:10:53.288Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

But often enough I find myself in a situation where I have to back her - but don't know to what end. That places me into a situation where I am bound to fail.

To me that sounds like the rules that your wife sets a too complex. If you don't understand that they make sense as an adult, they will be completely arbitary to the children.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-09T13:30:25.356Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Insightful. The rules I am talking about are mostly about every-day routine. The grand picture of these rules is clear - but that doesn't help for particular cases where

a) the children may know the rules or rather the pragmatics of the rules better than I and

b) I don't know the 'usual' consequences with respect to rule violation.

This manifests especially if I care for the children only for a limited time and then my wife takes over again - and gets dissatisfied with the consequences of my decisions - mostly because she has to 'clean up' after my 'misapplication' of the rules. And believe me: My children will tell me if I'm to strict but not if I'm too lax.

A corollary to this is: If you are less strict than your partner and never want to disappoint him/her, then you have to be stricter then him/him.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-09-09T17:42:41.080Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

A corollary to this is: If you are less strict than your partner and never what to disappoint him/her, then you have to be stricter then him/him.

That's when the only thing your partner cares about is that you enforce a certain level of rules.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-10T05:26:57.887Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sadly that has a true part in it.

comment by byrnema · 2013-09-03T22:12:08.716Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

If you want to maintain the rule you should better invest sufficient continuous energy to keep the rule adherence at a level where it is useful instead of letting it slip and then invest significant energy into getting it back.

I agree with this.

I also agree with you about the importance of making children feel significant. Hand in hand with children expending more brain power on their parents then the parents spend on them, I have a much larger world of which they are just a part, whereas until they are older, I am a much bigger part of their reality. I try to keep this asymmetry in mind and try to be more present for them. (This is one of my biggest challenges as a parent.)

Again you infer too much from my isolated remark that it be risky.

Actually, what I was responded to was more central in your post:

If the children notice this they may assume that you either condone, accept, bear or ignore it. None of these has positive effects.

My point was that I think it has mostly positively effects, because it teaches them the truth. If the parent didn't interfere with the undisciplined behavior (for example, if they are too tired or preoccupied or conflicted) then it is probably the case the parents condones/accepts/bears that behavior at that moment.

A long time ago I agreed that we establish the same rules and back each other on decisions made by the other. But often enough I find myself in a situation where I have to back her - but don't know to what end.

We struggle with this also. For example, with keeping a schedule and with routines. It completely doesn't work unless both parents maintain it, but in our case it is more important to one parent than the other.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-03T22:37:34.220Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

In our case it is also more important to one parent than the other. Sadly.

comment by westward · 2013-09-03T17:31:04.738Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes, children don't notice their parents noticing. And that's great for kids. They're safe, but don't know they are, so feel powerful.

If the children notice this they may assume that you either condone, accept, bear or ignore it. None of these has positive effects

Why not? It depends on what your goals are.

I think it's pretty useful for kids to learn that the explicit rules aren't the true rules. And that authority does turn a blind eye sometimes.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-03T20:47:48.607Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

None of these has positive effects Why not?

'None' was too strong. I agree that there are positive effects - but not if ignorance is used too much.

I think it's pretty useful for kids to learn that the explicit rules aren't the true rules. And that authority does turn a blind eye sometimes.

I agree with that too. With four children authority necessarily has a blind eye often enough.

It depends on what your goals are.

The goal is to give the children a save home from where to conquer the world.

A lot of possibilities to explore even with the risk of getting burned but not seriously harmed.

A lot to learn but firstly things they are interested in and that are at their zone of proximal development.

Some discipline and endurance.

An extended family where they need to adapt to different rules and customs.

comment by David_Gerard · 2013-09-03T20:37:21.142Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Sometimes, children don't notice their parents noticing. And that's great for kids. They're safe, but don't know they are, so feel powerful.

Mostly they don't notice. Parents develop eyes in the back of their arse and a hearing radius of about 100 metres. (Well, it feels like it.)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-09-19T08:41:29.234Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I love this article. I haven't thought about things like this since I was a kid.

I recall my parents refusing permission for me to participate in a wellbeing survey or something of that sort that was offered to students at my high school. Till this day I feel that if I hadn't have to have got permission, it would have referred me to counselling like one of my friends, and I would have got removed from that family violence situation and had a better mental health trajectory. I now they don't want what's bad for my mental health. They didn't know better.

comment by tadamsmar · 2014-01-15T14:56:52.119Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

In evidence-based parenting, the reason for pretending to ignore in response to unwanted behavior is that adult attention is a positive reinforcer. It has nothing to do with authority or feelings about interference. It has everything to do with what works.

The research indicates that the best approach is to direct attention to wanted behavior and away from any harmless unwanted behavior that can be ignored.

The strategy of signaling that you notice, smiling at, gamifying, in response to unwanted behavior is grossly counterproductive.

See:

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2008/04/tiny_tyrants.2.html

http://epicurusgarden.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-reinforcing-power-of-adult.html

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-01-15T15:58:16.521Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

The research indicates that the best approach is to direct attention to wanted behavior and away from any harmless unwanted behavior that can be ignored.

This is actually the strategy my parents applied a lot (I observed that on my younger siblings). On problematic issues distract from it by supplying something entirely else and focussing attention on that. But it made me feel uneasy because it didn't (seem to) address the real issue. It looked like an easy way out. It did work but it also cost quite some time each time.

The strategy of signaling that you notice, smiling at, gamifying, in response to unwanted behavior is grossly counterproductive.

This is valuable advice. Thank you.

But the point still stands: If the children notice that you intentionally condoned than you relativize your consequence. You can only do this if a) you accept this lenience or b) are sure that the (small) child will not notice. And if the act is indeed harmless.

On the other hand one can nonetheless signal in a mild form that you noticed in really harmless cases.

I will not gamify anymore though.

comment by tadamsmar · 2014-01-15T17:30:07.229Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

(how do I make those bars on the right indicating what I am replying to?)

"But it made me feel uneasy because it didn't (seem to) address the real issue. It looked like an easy way out. It did work but it also cost quite some time each time."

You can always address the real issue at some other time. The key is merely short-term timing, you don't want to react immediately in a way that reinforces the unwanted behavior with attention. Later, when the kid is not engaging in unwanted behavior your can address the real issue for hours on end if you want. Often the best way to address the real issue is to immediately react to the behavior that is the opposite of the unwanted behavior by having a long conversation about why the opposite is so good and commendable. Or, better yet sometimes, immediately ask the kid why he/she engaged in the good behavior and get them to tell you why they think it is good and all that. Kids love to have their parents listen to them, its a great social reward for wanted behavior.

"But the point still stands: If the children notice that you intentionally condoned than you relativize your consequence. You can only do this if a) you accept this lenience or b) are sure that the (small) child will not notice. And if the act is indeed harmless."

You are pretending to ignore. You are not condoning anything. The consequence is no attention. You are engaging in behavior shaping, notions like 'condoning" and "lenience" are not really categories in the behavior shaping process. Skillful behavior shaping is just the fastest way to accomplish lasting change according to the evidence. I my book, the fastest way to accomplish effective change is the direct opposite of condoning and lenience. I know this is not the way most parents think, but, in my opinion, it is the way to think. It does not matter if they notice it, the research shows it works whether they notice it or not.

Non-harmless unwanted behavior is a different matter, aggressive or significantly destructive behavior, it cannot be addressed by pretending to ignore. Redirection sometimes works. As a final resort use time-out, but most parents have no idea how to use time out. Time out is not a punishment, its just time-out from reinforcement. You can teach your kid to set in time out and reward them for executing a good time out. You can get the kid to practice time outs in advance of using it. Research show that time out works even if you award, praise, commend the kid for executing a good time out.

Parents tend to start the time out process with explanations. Explanations and face-time are time-in which is the opposite of time-out. Time-in, of course, tends to have the opposite effect of making the unwanted behavior more likely.

Parents tend to threaten time-out. Threatening time-out is time-in. Avoid threatening time-out.

When a time out is warranted, immediately initiate it with little or no talking and avoid looking at the kid. If you need to explain, say something short like "no biting". One minute per year of age is a good guideline for the length of time-out.

Also there are some gamification methods. Say a kid is doing head-banging tantrums or otherwise self-destructive or property-destructive tantrums. You can play a pretend game where the kid engages in "good" tantrums and you give him positive attention for "good" tantrums. Via this process instill the habit of good tantrums that can be ignored. Pretend games are a good way to trigger a wanted behavior that is not otherwise occurring so that you can start reinforcing this behavior.

Anyway this is advanced stuff, I refer you to the books of Alan Kazdin.

PS: You will probably find that it is easy to talk about why bad behavior is bad, but harder to come up with a long monologue or even a bunch of short comments about why specific good behaviors are good. It's worth working on this.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-01-15T19:05:17.627Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for your feedback. Seems you know what you write.

I looked up your comments and voted them. Note that you commented on old topics which will get votes seldomly. I voted them.

I also looked up Kazdin and just ordered a book from Amazon.

(how do I make those bars on the right indicating what I am replying to?)

There is a help button right below the comment field that explains it and more.

comment by tadamsmar · 2014-01-16T15:18:17.401Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I focused on behaviorism, but I just wanted to mention that The Incredible Years is a good evidence-based book that is not based soly in behaviorism. Kazdin's are the best books on behaviorism as applied to parenting. Incredible Years integrates a bunch of methods including behaviorism.

Here's a neat pictorial outline of the Incredible Years Program:

http://r2lp.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/pyramid-in-color.jpg

Here's the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Incredible-Years-Trouble-Shooting-Guide/dp/1892222043/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389884443&sr=1-2

(There is also a cheaper 2002 edition on Amazon, not sure what the difference is.)

Here's the Incredible Years website:

http://incredibleyears.com/

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2014-03-31T21:31:24.861Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Thank you for your detailed comments earlier and your links. I have read the book and written a lengthy review of it here: http://lesswrong.com/r/discussion/lw/jzg/book_review_for_rational_parenting_kazdins_the/ would you like to check it whether you think it accurately represents the Kazdin method?

comment by passive_fist · 2013-09-06T01:07:35.922Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't like the term 'testing of limits'. It seems to be imply that somehow children are hell-bent on testing the boundaries of the acceptable and doing the naughtiest things they can do without getting caught, just for the sake of being naughty. Put simply, it assumes behavior that is too 'adult-like' and psychopathic. It seems more realistic to me that children aren't capable of analyzing to this extent; they are impulsive and often do things without even considering the consequences. Sometimes you have a situation where the child is angry at the parent, and deliberately does things to piss the parent off. That doesn't necessarily comprise all situations though.

I agree that corrective measures should be applied at all times. If it's a minor infraction, only a minor correction is necessary ("Don't do that", said neutrally and not angrily.) If it's a big infraction, a bigger correction is necessary. Reacting with unreasonable anger towards a minor infraction hurts your authority.

comment by ChristianKl · 2013-09-09T12:06:21.975Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

I don't like the term 'testing of limits'. It seems to be imply that somehow children are hell-bent on testing the boundaries of the acceptable and doing the naughtiest things they can do without getting caught, just for the sake of being naughty.

In my experience children do things like that. I have two little brothers and they had phases where they did engage in a lot of testing of limits.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-11-24T22:06:54.905Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Testing the limits is neccessary to learn the real rules. Especially in the beginning they do not even know what a rule is and even less what consequences to rule violation are. These are higher order concepts which must be learned.

Same with defiance and anger: To make any use of emotions their effect must be calibrated. The brain surely is not hard-wired to associate speific social situation with specific emotions. Not when the social situations themselves are largely learned. I think that a lot of anger and fear etc. is triggered during these childish outbursts not intentionally but more or less randomly due to hormonally reduced inhibition. This will increase likelyhood of suitable situations to learn emotional response.

Tag: parenting

comment by itaibn0 · 2013-09-03T23:01:48.576Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I think you should change the title. When I read it, I interpreted it to mean ignorance about parenting.

comment by Lumifer · 2013-09-03T17:43:43.987Z · score: 0 (2 votes) · LW · GW

That is risky

Everything is risky -- future is uncertain. I would argue that reacting to everything you noticed carries its own set of risks. You may have reasons for preferring one set of risks to another, but that's a choice between two alternatives, not between "risky" and "not risky".

If the children notice this they may assume that you either condone, accept, bear or ignore it. None of these has positive effects.

Why no positive effects? It's not obvious to me.

Consider that kids and adults have to navigate the real world where "I will pretend not to notice" is a common occurrence (a noticeable chunk of politeness is precisely this).

A child is not a Skinnerian white rat.

comment by bbleeker · 2013-09-04T13:10:13.050Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Consider that kids and adults have to navigate the real world where "I will pretend not to notice" is a common occurrence (a noticeable chunk of politeness is precisely this).

And another part of politeness is not abusing this by doing the annoying thing anyway. You (generic you, of course) know it's annoying - your family has told you often enough.

comment by linkhyrule5 · 2013-09-03T18:19:10.467Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Social skills are hard. I'd rather a child learn what not to do well before s/he eventually learns to interpret "you're kinda annoying me but I'm not going to mention it."

Especially since I, personally, still haven't mastered that skill.

comment by shminux · 2013-09-03T18:27:50.469Z · score: -4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Children (esp. small ones) expend significantly more brain power on their parents than the parents on their children (your mileage may vary).

This has certainly not been my experience. I would think this is only true if you are a neglectful parent or have too many children (which is probably the same thing).

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2013-09-03T22:00:50.047Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Am I correct to read this as "children invest more brain power into their parents than the parents into the children only if the parents neglect the children"? This sounds fallacious. First it would imply that children that don't invest more brain power into their parent don't have neglectful parents which surely isn't right. The children could try to find other caretakers. Second if parents have more than two children they have to split their energy more than the child has to split. And this would imply that parents with more than two children were necessarily neglectful which I also can't see.

comment by westward · 2013-09-04T17:13:07.311Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Comparing the "amount of brainpower" is silly. It's poorly defined ("focused attention on"? "time spent considering how to manipulate"?) and are we talking absolute or relative? I'm way smarter than a 4 year old. Most experiences are new to her and she has to consider them individually. I have a vast trove of heuristics at my disposal that she doesn't.