On Being a Parent
President Elect Grant Paice gave us some insights on his experiences as an educational psychologist when talking with groups about surviving parenthood.
“I always introduce myself by saying that I have no kids, a cat that occasionally does what it is told, and a wife that never does what she is told and that I was here to tell them how to manage being a parent” smiled Grant.
He then shared a model for managing behaviour based on the key principle that “what you notice is what you get” i.e.:
  1. Behaviour that is noticed increases the chance that it will occur again.
  2. Behaviour that is ignored decreases the chance that it will occur again.
  3. Behaviour that is dangerous needs to be stopped quickly with the minimum amount of attention including:
    1. Diverting attention via proximity or restructuring or:
    2. Having the child or other(s) removed from the situation.
After giving a couple of examples he then shared the Premack Principle that states we are more likely to perform a less desirable behaviour if it is followed by a more desirable one. 
“On a hot Saturday I am more likely to mow the lawns if I follow this with a cold beer” smiled Grant ”whereas if I have a beer first I tend to leave the lawns until the next day”.
He then gave a few examples focused on the principle that what you notice is what you get. 
“No single parenting strategy works with all kids or in all situations” noted Grant, who went on to suggest that effective parents acquire a wide range of strategies to help them deal with the various situations they might face.
“Parents who struggle with being consistent are like slot machines” he continued “with kids in this scenario continuing to play parents until their behaviours results in as payoff.”  A sounder approach, suggested Grant, is to maintain a reasonably consistent approach to managing behaviour based on the above principles.
After a few more examples Grant asked for ideas from the floor re managing a teenage daughter who, when upset, storms off to her bedroom and slams the door shut.  Members quickly came up with Nigel Latta’s idea of taking the door off its hinges and placing it in the garage for two weeks which typically gets rid of the problem very quickly.
“A work colleague of mine used this tactic to great effect” grinned Grant.
In closing Grant reminded members that kids do eventually leave home and gave us this final tip: “Remember to change the locks”.
Evan thanked Grant for his humorous presentation on surviving parenthood.