The benefit of using warnings to encourage better behavior

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The benefit of using warnings to encourage better behavior

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Well, parents wonder about warnings and sometimes they skip warnings. I think warnings are really important; let me tell you why. First of all, if you just spring a consequence on a teenager, you do not want to see the reaction. It’s going to all be about it’s not fair – and the real issues on the table will disappear. Because when something’s not fair, teenager is stuck right there. But I love warnings, because what they actually do is give your child a chance to have some information about if they don’t do this or stop doing that, something is going to happen. This is like teaching cause and effect. Now, we know that the brain of young people in terms of cause and effect doesn’t kind of all click until college sometime – pretty scary. So giving your child warnings helps them actually develop the cause effect – weight this, weight that, make this choice, make that choice – really is important for your child. Another thing about warnings – it teaches your child self-control. If they continue doing what they’re going to do, something’s going to happen. So they have to stop and maybe weight. That little pause, that self control, is great for your kid. They have a chance to make the right choice, turn the whole situation around. And when they do make the right choice, then you can say, “Good job. Good choice. Thanks for cooperating.” And the family is back on track.

Watch Cynthia G. Whitham, LCSW's video on The benefit of using warnings to encourage better behavior...

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Cynthia G. Whitham, LCSW

Director, UCLA Parenting & Children’s Friendship Program

Cynthia G. Whitham, LCSW, Director of the UCLA Parenting and Children’s Friendship Program, has been training parents for over 30 years. She is the author of two books, Win the Whining War & Other Skirmishes: A family peace plan, and The Answer is NO: Saying it & sticking to it, which have been translated into nine languages. In addition to her UCLA group classes, Ms. Whitham has a private practice on the east and west sides of Los Angeles. In 2000, she spent a month training clinicians at the National Institute of Mental Health of Japan. A lively speaker, Ms. Whitham does presentations and trainings for schools and organizations. Ms. Whitham raised two happy, healthy, and (relatively) well-behaved children (she thinks that may be the best credential of all). Daughter Miranda McLeod is a fiction author and is in a PhD program at Rutgers University. With sadness, Cynthia tells us that her son Kyle died in 2007, within months of graduating from San Francisco State University.

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