Slot machines are a wondrous sight. You insert money, pull the lever, and nothing comes out. You insert more money, pull the lever, and nothing comes out again. If the slot machine could think, it would probably be thinking, “Hey goof! I’m not giving you what you want. Why do you keep pulling the lever?” Honestly though, if a slot machine did break, how long would people keep pulling the lever until they finally learned that the machine does not respond by giving rewards anymore. I think people would pull that lever until they were tired. Then they would probably pull it a little bit the next day and a bit more the next, just in case. If the slot machine never gave out money, the pulling of the lever would eventually stop.
If the slot machine was to spit out money at any time during the pulling, the person would then know that the slot machine is not broken; it simply needs to be pulled more than before. The same holds true with children. If the parent is following the principles in this book and the child is not responding correctly, chances are great the parent is spitting out a reward and the child now knows that the slot machine is not broken; the lever just needs to be pulled more.
Christina usually did a good job at parenting Brian. Brian was usually a good little boy, except that he repeatedly asked permission over and over again. “Can I have a new toy?” “Can I have a new toy?” he would ask. Christina lived on a tight budget and could not always buy him a new toy, but when she had extra money the constant asking quickly wore her down. She reasoned that it was easier to buy him the toy than to listen to his incessant questioning. Christina was tired of hearing him ask, but did not know how to get him to stop. She tried threatening him, spanking him, and yelling at him, but to no avail.
Michelle lived on a tight budget. She did not have a lot of things growing up, so she liked to buy her child toys when she could. This, however, was not very often since money was tight. Upon entering the store, her son would ask her for a toy. Michelle had a key phrase that she would say when
she did not have enough money. She would say the same phrase each time. It went like this, “I don’t have enough money for a toy.” Once Michelle said that phrase, she never broke down and bought her son a toy, even if she discovered that she had some money left over. No matter how much the son begged and pleaded, she never bought a toy after that phrase was spoken. The son soon learned that when Michelle said, “I don’t have enough money for a toy” she meant it. He would then quit asking for a toy.
Michelle would use the same technique for other things in her son’s life. She maintained a rule about not allowing candy at bed time. Her son knew not to ask for candy at bed time, because the rule never changed. Michelle would simply say, “No candy at bed time,” and she meant it. Michelle tried to keep all of her rules simple and consistent. She did not change them. Michelle knew that if she changed the rules it would result in her son begging for the rule to be changed again and again. Michelle always stated phrases that would let her son know that a rule was in place. Michelle used the same phrase repeatedly because it signaled to the son that he had heard the rule before and the rule does not change. Because Michelle never, ever, ever, broke her own rule, her son knew to not beg for the rule to be broken. He knew that it was useless to beg because it never achieved a reward, not even once.