The Criticism Trap

Maloney Method - The Criticism Trap Child Outside Playing

Part 1 of a Series - The Criticism Trap


“Watch me, Mommy! Watch me!”

How many times have we heard that request from our children? What does that request tell us again and again? It tells us that our attention is important to our children. They seek it out. They make special efforts to have us lavish our attention on them.

Many parents underestimate the power of attention as a way to develop and maintain the acceptable behavior of their children. They do not appreciate that their attention increases the likelihood of the behavior being repeated or that their lack of attention decreases the likelihood that the child will engage in that behavior again.

Sometimes parents unwittingly reward exactly the behavior that they are attempting to eradicate by paying attention to it. A most common example is that of a child nagging a parent for something that they want or something that they want to do.

Why is this a trap?

The child seeks attention. “Can we come in now?”

The mother provides feedback. The child has just been rewarded with attention for pestering, a behavior the mother prefers that s/he not engage in.

Mom tells the child that they must wait. Telling the child to wait is reinforced for the mother because the child complies, even though the child will most likely repeat the request a short late, usually with more intensity.

Both participants are being rewarded with attention for inappropriate verbal behaviours.


Bonus: Check out the FREE lessons of the Maloney Method Digital Reading Program.


 If you can read, you can teach a child to read.

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