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"Moody" and "unpredictable" are adjectives parents will often use when referring to their teenagers.

The more 2 parents differ in their approaches to discipline, the more likely it leads to trouble for the child.

If there is no relationship - nothing else matters !

Criticism is not a motivator.

Removing a child from a traumatic environment does not remove the trauma from the child's memory.

It is what we say and do when we're angry that creates the very model our children will follow when dealing with their own frustrations.

It's more effective to reward your child for being "good" (appropriate) than to punish him for being "bad" (inappropriate).

Don't wait for him to turn 10 before you reveal that you are not in fact the hired help whose job it is to clean up after him.

Adolescence can be the cruelest place on earth. It can really be heartless.  ( Tori Amos)

Early intervention is always better than crisis management - but it is never too late to do the right thing.

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The “Skills Acquisition” Approach

The skills acquisition approach assumes that the source of the behaviour problems lie in a skills deficit. This means that the child cannot do something or doesn’t know something that directly leads into an inappropriate behaviour. The skills acquisition people state that once the child learns the missing skill, the undesirable behaviors will fade away, therefore the solution lies in determining what skill(s) is lacking and developing a plan to teach it.

An obvious example would be a child with a developmental disability who cannot talk. The inability to express his needs and wants leads to frustration and “acting out” behaviors. The solution then would be to teach the child the skill he is lacking or give him a compensatory skill (ie. sign language, picture symbols, computer, etc.) and the need to act out will decrease because his new communication skill(s) is providing a vehicle to work out his frustrations.

Programs such as “anger management” and “social skills training” are also examples of the skills acquisition category. Most children learn social skills in their normal everyday interactions with their family, friends and classmates. This usually happens without any special treatment beyond the regular routines and lessons of life. Some children, for a myriad of reasons do not acquire these social skills in the usual way resulting in a need to present them in alternate forms. A trained therapist may meet with a small group of children and attempt to teach appropriate social interaction by “role playing”, “videos”, “puppets”, “group discussions”, etc. The hope is that the child will be able to transfer the skills presented and practiced in the therapy sessions into his home, school and community and the problem behaviors will decrease.

Undoubtedly some children are able to make the leap from the therapy  room to the real word and their behaviour improves. It has been my observation however, that a sizable number do not transfer the skills into the real world as fast as we would like and their behaviour continues to cause concern.

As with the other approaches, the skills acquisition approach is not a universal solution to all children’s behaviour problems.

Next posting – the Behavioural approach

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