"undesirable behavior" -->Shaping means providing the child with cues and reinforcements that direct them toward desirable behavior. As you shape behavior, the child's personality tags along and also changes and improves. The main ways to shape a child's behavior are through: * praise
* selective ignoring
* withdrawing privileges
Praise is a valuable shaper; children want to please you and keep your approval. Yet, you can easily overdo it. Praise the behavior, not the person. Praises like "good girl" or "good boy" risk misinterpretation and are best reserved for training pets. These labels are too heavy for some children. ("If I don't do well, does that mean I'm bad?") Better is: "You did a good job cleaning your room." "That's a good decision." "I like the way you used lots of color in this picture." The child will see that the praise is sincere since you made the effort to be specific; it shows that you're paying attention. For quickies try "Great job!" or "Way to go!" or even "Yesss!" To avoid the "I'm valued by my performance" trap, acknowledge the act and let the child conclude the act is praiseworthy. If you praise every other move the child makes he will either get addicted to praise, or wonders why you are so desperate to make him feel good about himself. Be realistic. You don't have to praise, or even acknowledge, things he just does for the joy of it, for his own reasons. Shaping through praise works well if you have a specific behavior goal that you want to reach, for example, stopping whining. Initially, you may feel like you are acknowledging nearly every pleasant sound your child makes ("I like your sweet voice"). Eventually, as the whining subsides, the immediate need for praise lessens (of course, a booster shot is needed for relapses) and you move on to shaping another behavior. Change praises
To keep your child's attention, change the delivery of your accolades. As you pass by the open door of the cleaner room, say: "Good job!" Show with body language a thumbs-up signal for the child who dresses herself. Written praises are a boon in large families. They show extra care. Private praises help, too. Leave little "nice work" notes on pillows, yellow "post-its" on homework, messages that convey that you noticed and that you are pleased. Children need praise, but don't overdo it. You don't want a child to look around for applause whenever she lifts a finger, like a dog expecting a cookie every time he does a trick. As an exercise in praise-giving, write down how many times you praised and how many times you criticized your child in the last 24 hours. We call these pull-ups and put-downs. If your pull-ups don't significantly outnumber your pull-downs, you are shaping your child in the wrong direction. Praise genuinely
Praise loses its punch if you shower acclaim on usual and expected behavior; yet when the child who habitually strikes out finally hits the ball, that's praiseworthy. Simply acknowledge expected behavior, rather than gushing praise. Acknowledgment is dispassionate praise that shapes a child to please himself rather than perform for approval. Don't make up fake kudos. The child will see through them and begin to question even genuine praise. For example, before you praise, try to read your child's body language to see whether the child feels the job is praiseworthy: "Daddy, look at my drawing I did at school. I got an 'A'." If she approaches you eagerly, displaying her picture for all to see, this child deserves praise that shares her excitement. If she pulls the paper out of her schoolbag and tosses it on the kitchen table, praise may not be in order. Use the art of complimenting
Teach your child to be comfortable giving and receiving compliments. Tell your child, "What a handsome boy you are" or "How pretty you look in that...