Ivan Pavlov demonstrated a principle with his dog. He taught the dog to want to eat whenever he rang a bell. Pavlov did this by ringing a bell every time he fed the dog. The dog responded to the bell because he knew that the sound meant that it was meal time.
Bell Ring = Food
Children are trained to respond in the same manner. A parent that gives ten directives with the final directive as a shout, before a consequence is given, has trained his child to understand that he is not to respond until the tenth directive and to wait until the tone of the parent’s voice has reached shouting. Sure the child will respond to a single or a double directive sometimes, but the option has been given to the child to not respond until the tenth directive.
? = Consequences
Children will push to the last limit provided. Without realizing it, parents train their kids to respond to a tone and type of directive. The key here is for a parent to decide how loud they want to give a directive and how many times they want to give it before they give the consequence. Once the method of delivery is established, the child should not be allowed to cross the threshold without the consequence being given. If a parent decides that they will give the directive one time and at a normal toned voice, then their children will become accustomed to responding to one directive and a normal toned voice. The more impulsive a child is, the sooner a consequence must follow the directive. The best practice is to give the consequence within the minute that the directive has been ignored.
As little Rachel got older, Joey noticed that he was giving more and more directives. He spent a lot of time saying “no Rachel” and “don’t touch Rachel.” Joey noticed that he would tell Rachel nine or ten times and she still did not follow his directives until he began to yell. Joey did not like yelling, but he felt that it was the only thing that worked. Soon, Joey noticed that he was yelling all of the time, and Rachel did not even respond to that as much as she used to. Joey noticed that Rachel would only respond when Joey was at his wits end and ready to place her in time out.
Joey decided that Rachel was only responding to his frantic yelling, because she knew that she would get a consequence after he had his grown-up fit. Joey figured that Rachel would also respond to a quiet directive if she knew that a consequence would follow it. Joey began to count to three, stating Rachel’s name each time. In a quiet tone, he would say, “Rachel go take your bath…one Rachel…two Rachel…three Rachel.” Rachel soon learned that after Joey said “three” she was going to get a consequence. Rachel learned that she did not have any leeway on following directives. She learned that she could not wait until Joey was upset to follow a directive. She quickly changed her behavior and started to follow the directive before three was stated.