Picture used for illustrative purpose only. TNS
Alpha speech, or leadership speech, is not a new concept. So what exactly is it and how can it be used to solve discipline problems in children?
Using alpha speech entails that successful discipline of a child is more a matter of properly conveying authority rather than properly using consequences, even though the latter is important as well.
Parents of today believe more in behaviour modifications which include techniques like using time-outs or star charts as a method of punishment and reward. This misleading concept of using consequences to solve behavioural issues was popularised in the 1970s. At the time, the mental health professionals claimed that praising and rewarding children would strengthen the good behaviour while punishing and ignoring would weaken the bad.
But now, researchers have found that reward and punishment, when used with children, can be and often are counterproductive, which goes a long way toward explaining why the behaviour and discipline of children has become increasingly problematic since parents began relying on behaviour modification.
Alpha speech rests on the simple and historically verified proposition that “a child’s natural response to the proper presentation of authority is obedience.” Also, obedience on the part of a child is definitely in the child’s best interest. The more obedient the child, the more relaxed and happy the child, which is precisely the opposite of what mental health professionals alleged.
Alpha speech in four parts:
1. When giving instruction to a child, speak from a fully upright position (as opposed to the silliness of “getting down to the child’s level.”
2. Use the fewest words possible.
3. Do not explain yourself, but simply tell the child what you want him to do in a matter-of-fact tone.
4. When a child wants to know “Why?” (which is what children ask in the absence of an explanation), your answer should be “Because I said so” or a variation thereof.
For example, if you want a child to put on his coat and wait by the front door, you say, “I want you to put on your coat and wait for me by the front door.”
You DON’T say, “I have to go down the street and give a casserole to Miss Gloria and it would really help Mummy if you’d put on your coat because it’s chilly out and wait for me by the front door.” That approach is likely to draw resistance of one sort or another.
Alpha speech is nothing more than saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It is employed by effective leaders, thus the alternate label.
It is neither threatening nor promising. Oh, and when the child obeys, it is best to say simply “Thank you” without an exclamation point as opposed to “Good boy! Mummy’s going to take her little man to the ice cream store later today!”
In discipline, less is usually more.
If you or your spouse are in the habit of rewarding your child’s good behaviour, or promise them gifts just so they can do what they are told, you might be doing them more harm than good.
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