One of the most common mistakes for the parents we see in Family Medicine is, the “accidental reward”.
Think of a child’s tantrum. Parents may give them an ipad, a toy, or a treat to stop that tantrum. This is the classic “accidental reward”. It is something that all parents tend to do from time to time, especially when tired or unwell. It’s normal, and we need to do it for survival from time to time, but short term gain can lead to long term pain.
The problem with accidental reward is of course, we are rewarding a behaviour that we don’t want, and with a reward, the behaviour will continue.
So what is the alternative?
Parenting counseling/training helps to address this issue through awareness of accidental rewards, defusion, and strategies like quiet time, time out, active ignoring, and 123Magic.
Having said all that, it’s important to acknowledge the challenges for parents who have children with special needs. It is super tough for them. They may require extra support and more specific strategies relevant to their particular context.