Hack your child’s brain using video game techniques

Transforming The Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser and Jennifer Easley

The struggle

Parenting is a challenge for any number of reasons.  Everything else can impact your ability to parent: a career, having received inadequate parenting yourself, a child’s special needs, your own medical or mental health issues, marriage problems, financial woes.  The harder the rest of life gets, the more oppositional even neurotypical children can be.  If you’re struggling, its not that you’re a bad parent or your children are bad kids–it’s typically that you are locked into a negative spiral. 

Why this is important

This is one version of Parent Effectiveness Training, a behavior therapy designed for kids with Oppositional Defiant Disorder but I’ve found that many of the principles work well for any kid (or adult, for that matter!)  [link to “transforming your difficult adult”]

Something that really stuck with me

The description comparing our discipline efforts to how a video game works was just brilliant.  Why do my kids work so hard to succeed at even the dumbest games?  Because they are designed to drive people to try hard.  So why not do the same in real life? 

Any thumbs down? 

I don’t like the reward systems commonly used in Parent Effectiveness Training.  It would be lovely if I were that organized, but I’m not.  And I’m assuming that most parents raising a child in need of this sort of parenting aren’t able to keep up significantly better than me.  I altered the reward system to work better for us and frankly, I think it’s more powerful since time and again research has shown that randomized rewards are more powerful than consistent rewards.

Final thoughts

This book changed our lives.  My son met criteria for ODD when he was 4.  I had a realization of why things were so hard, panicked, did a ton of research, read a bunch of books and tried a couple parent trainings, and landed on this as the one that made the most sense and was the most doable.  I bought the workbook to read to Tim since the main book was just too long winded for him.  The amount of energy necessary to make the changes was astonishing–but so were the results.  I have recommended this book to my patients and friends innumerable times.

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