"A Facebook contact recently asked me for advice concerning an aggressive grandchild of hers who her single-parent daughter couldn't control. I knew that I'd previously done a daily post on this subject and after looking back over my posts for the past five years, I eventually found it. Apart from a few changes I have made, I reproduce that post.
During my early years working as Probation Officer in Huddersfield, I took an 18-month 'Advanced Diploma in Behaviour Modification' at Manchester University. It was a five-day week course of attendance. Two days were spent working in a hospital near Oldham, one day involved working with a practising Psychologist and the remaining two days were spent at the University, studying theory. A large part of this course made use of the latest methods in psychology, particularly when working with children whose anti-behaviour is thought to be harder to change than many adults, as many mothers at their wits end have discovered.
From my time on this course, which was run by one of the country's top psychologists, two methods stood out in my memory that proved to be head and shoulders above the rest. Both methods worked, but only one was considered acceptable/ethical to use with children.
First, we considered the 'unacceptable/unethical', but nevertheless highly effective method; something which offered the misbehaving child the imminent prospect of getting hurt through the threat of violence if they didn't change their behaviour.
A mother and her son were waiting in the office of an Educational Psychologist where her six-year-old son was to be assessed for constantly displaying a rebellious attitude and aggressive behaviour whenever he wanted his own way and didn't get it instantly. In the room was a rocking horse, upon which another child was quietly playing. The aggressive child approached the rocking horse and without any warning, he yanked the other child off it onto the floor, mounted the horse and jumped in the saddle. His mother, seeing what her son had done, feebly apologised profusely to the other mum. She then tried to persuade her son to get off the rocking horse and apologise to the child he'd hurt. Her son refused outright and ignored all her entreaties to dismount and apologise for his unacceptable behaviour.
Seeing what had happened, a psychologist approached the aggressive child on the rocking horse and whispered in his ear. The child immediately got off the rocking horse without a murmur, looking sheepish. Flabbergasted, the boy's mother asked the psychologist what he had said to produce such a compliant response in her rebellious son. The psychologist whispered in her ear the precise words he'd whispered to her rebellious child: 'While your own mother lets you get your own way, I won't! You have five seconds to get off this horse before something very bad will happen to you. If you are not back in your seat sitting quietly at the side of your mother in six seconds, I will break your little neck. Now, move!'
I strongly suspect that this branch of psychology was used by parents and grandparents everywhere before the Second World War.
The second method was considered to be highly ethical and very effective and I have used it hundreds of times ever since; it never fails. Whenever I see a child crying loudly because the child isn't getting their own way, I will look directly into the child's face and say, 'I've heard of children crying loudly, but have never seen one cry as loud as you before. For years I have been going around the world searching for crying children who can make the most noise. At last, I think I've found the child who cries loudest. Go on, give me your loudest cry, as I'd love to record it. Go on, cry and scream as loud as you can, please.' Upon hearing this request, the crying child always stops instantly, which also goes to prove what our mothers and grandmothers have known for generations; tell a child to do one thing and their natural instinct is to do the opposite!
Come to think of it, I think we could justifiably swap the term 'psychology' and exchange it for something like 'Grandma's Rules!' And whilst we're at it, we could also dispense with the expensive 'Advanced Diploma in Behaviour Modification' at Manchester University and instead, simply ask, 'What say you, Grandma?'" William Forde: July 28th, 2017.