Everything is going great, right? Well, not really. We've had some problem behaviors pop up over the weekend. They're not really new behaviors, but the magnitude of them have increased. My daughter has gotten extremely defiant. She does not do what we ask her to do. She'll apologize afterward, but then do the same bad behavior a few minutes later. It was pretty nonstop this weekend.
I met with the after-school behaviorist's supervisor about the defiance issue. Even though I'm losing the behaviorist, I'm going to be working with the supervisor, doing parent training. This means she's going to try and teach me how to handle behaviors that we want changed.
The approach to changing any type of problem behavior is with positive reinforcement. This generally involves rewarding the child when they are doing the behavior you want them to do! With our daughter, this approach has worked really well with controlling tantrums and reducing her rigid behavior. But I have to be honest: when she's being defiant, it's not the approach I really want to use. My knee-jerk reaction is to be punitive. "If you don't clean up your toys, we're going to take them away for a day" kind of punitive. The supervisor isn't a fan of this approach.
My husband (who, by the way, is absolutely amazing with our daughter) stated today that it's sometimes hard to believe that all problem behaviors can be fixed with positive reinforcement. After all, "many generations of punishment can't be entirely wrong." It's hard to argue with logic like this, although I did point out that discipline for thousands of years involved severe beatings. This approach may not evolve into a fabulous relationship we want with our daughter down the road.
While we should be happy that our daughter is doing well in school and is graduating out of her behavior therapy, we are really worried about losing this service. The defiance isn't helping matters any!