Yale Parenting Center
Making Families Stronger January 2016

From Alan Kazdin

Happy New Year

The New Year can be a time for new beginnings.  For many of us, it is a time to resolve to do something differently.  New Year's resolutions can be quite important because they can affect mental and physical health, social relations, and our satisfaction with life.  You might be thinking about resolving to exercise more, help others, or spend more time with your children.  Although the idea of making resolutions is serious and intentional, they sometimes thought of as silly and are rarely kept beyond January.  The problem is how we go about sticking to them.  To increase the chance of success, resolutions should be made in very small increments toward a goal.  The increments should be defined clearly and monitored in some way.
One example to illustrate this idea is about a father and his three year old son, Matthew.  The dad told us he wants to read to his son every night, but Matthew has difficulty sitting long enough to finish a book.  Once they sit down, he gets up and leaves or just runs around the room.  Dad's resolution is to get his child to sit for 15 or 20 minutes to read a whole children's book.  This is a nice goal to set because reading with your child can actually improve IQ.  To attain this goal, Dad should begin by breaking it down into small steps.  The next time he wants to read with his son, we told him to say that they are only going to read one page of the book.  During and after that one page is read and Matthew is sitting, dad should praise that behavior enthusiastically.  Once Matthew is able to sit nicely for one page, the dad can increase this goal one page at a time. 
At the Yale Parenting Center, we have been studying behavior change in children, parents, and families for over 30 years.  We know that telling a child to change habits or telling ourselves to change our own behavior, is not likely to be effective.  Learning new or difficult tasks (learning to swim, mastering a musical instrument) has to be done in gradual steps and the outcomes are surprising.  Changes in parenting practices require the same gradual approach.  As you are celebrating the beginning of a new year, think about what small first step you could focus on right away.  We hope this newsletter will help you make those changes.


For Parents

 What's Your Parenting Resolution?

As the year comes to a close, are you thinking about making changes in your home or parenting practices?  Maybe you want to yell less, spend more quality time with your children, or just try to have dinner together each night.  How do you go about making these changes?  Often it is the small changes can be the best changes to make. 

Pick one small step or piece of your goal and start there.  Do that one small step every day.  Once you are doing it consistently, add a little more.  Before you know it you will have made big changes in your family!  Here's an example of a plan for change following this model.

Goal:  Dinner together as a family most nights

Step 1:  Dinner together on one evening (Sundays)

Step 2:  Dinner together on two evenings (Sundays and Wednesdays)

Step 3:  Dinner together on 3 evenings

Step 4:  Dinner together on 4 evenings

Step 5: Dinner together 5 evenings

Keep adding steps until you reach your goal!

Resolve To Stay Calm

If you are able to stay calm when you are frustrated, you model control for your child.  This modeling has been shown to be an effective teaching tool for children.  Try walking away, a parent time-out, deep breaths, or tag team with your parenting partner when things get heated.  Your child is more likely to remain calm when he or she is upset, if you show that behavior as well. 

Resolve To Spend Quantity Time Not Quality Time

Many people believe that quality time when we are completely focused on our child or doing some very special activity is ideal.  Actually, it has been found that quantity may outweigh quality in the benefits it provides.  The more time you spend just being there makes a difference.  Little conversations, vegging together, and sharing day to day life is key, rather than elaborate trips and activities.  So, if this is your resolution, aim for more small moments together rather than focusing so much on what is done in these moments. 

Professional Interest

What is Your Professional Resolution?

The beginning of the new year is a good time to take a look at your professional life and goals.  Are you working on autopilot?  Feeling overwhelmed or disorganized?  Consider using the behavioral principle of shaping to help you. 

Decide on a small first step and slowly add to  your plan.  For example, if your paperwork is piling up, give yourself just 10 minutes each day to work on it.  Once 10 minutes is over, put the paperwork down and treat yourself to some down time.  Once you are able to tackle the 10 minutes easily, add to it, make it 20 minutes.  Soon you will be completing daily paperwork and feeling less stressed and overwhelmed.

Yale Parenting Center Professional Trainings

If one of your resolutions is learn effective evidence based practices to use with your clients, look no further.  The Yale Parenting Center offers convenient training options as well as an advanced certification program. 

More information on our trainings

Basic Parent Management Training Webinar in January

Our next Basic PMT webinar is scheduled for January 19th, 21st, 26th, and 28th.  Start the new year off right!  Get your training directly from the only facility that provides approved training programs in the Kazdin Method.  There are still slots open so sign up today!

More information on our trainings

What's Happening at the Center

Attention Connecticut Parents

Is your child struggling with behavioral difficulties?

We are open for enrollment in our new study.  Qualified parents will receive our evidence based treatment at no cost. 

Click here for more information on how to enroll

Dear YPC,

I am so angry at myself and I need your help!  I am too quick to react harshly to my three kids.  If one of them spills milk on the floor or walks through the house in muddy shoes, I instantaneously fire a harsh comment like "watch what you are doing!" or "be careful, look at what you just did!"  Then, just a minute later, once I fix the situation, I am completely fine and calm and even apologize for yelling.  I feel horrible about this and it has been going on a long time.  My resolution is to stop being harsh with my children.  Please help! 

Thanks, Sherry

Dear Sherry,

Thank you so much for writing us about your resolution.  Here are some things you can do to make it successful.  First, select small baby step toward your goal.  Choose one day a week or one evening to work on.  During that time, no matter what happens, you will work hard to stay calm and keep your tone of voice calm.  Changing huge chunks of behavior can be hard.  Exerting control on one day is the place to begin.  Keep track of how many days you are able to do this successfully.  Once you get this change going consistently, you can add another day or evening to your plan.  You can even reward yourself for your successes.  A special cup of coffee, some time to yourself, or a little treat can actually help keep you going strong.  Good luck!

Sincerely, YPC

Holiday Recess

The Yale Parenting Center would like to wish you and your family a safe, healthy, and peaceful holiday and new year.  The center will be closed for the holidays and will reopen on January 4th. 
Yale Yale Parenting Center
314 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
T 203 432.9993
F 203 432.5225
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