Sheldon H. Wagner & Michael J.S. Weiss "Child Rearing" 

This has been modified from it's original form in order to make the ideas and language as simple as possible.


These are not thoughts that I have simply re-worded.  These are the principles intrinsic to how I raise my children, work with clients, treat my employees and work with people in general.

I first became familiar with Michael J.S. Weiss through a TV series he was/is on.  His work with challenging children was a profound example of the powerful results of these concepts. They are the most powerful concepts that I know of.  If you can internalize them, they will have more profound social effect than anything else you learn.

Michael has put into words the precise strategies that I have developed intuitively.  (This can be attributed to, in large part, the fact that I absorb every concept I become acquainted with, disseminate what works from what doesn't, and watched a large number of the episodes Michael had on TV.)

Having attention issues myself (ADHD), I am acutely aware of what works and what doesn't when it comes to motivating individuals with attention difficulties.  Michael Weiss has done a SUPERB job of defining these strategies in this article


While I personally use an intuitive system of natural rewards and avoid the use of a "star" or "treat" system, I acknowledge that the "star" system may have merit.  I have left it in, but can't add to or comment on its validity, not having had the opportunity or need to implement it myself yet. 

I believe that genuine praise is a better reward and a more powerful motivator than "treats".  I find that relying on rewards doesn't help the child learn to be as self-motivated as congratulations.  There are things in life that we don't enjoy that we will eventually be expected to do without ANY reward.  If you use a "treat" system, it takes a while longer to begin transitioning into "natural" rewards.

However, if you have a child that won't respond to anything else, using "treats" or "stars" is better than allowing the unwanted behavior to continue.

Graham White, 


This is an overview of behavior management for helping children learn to realize the natural consequences of their choices and begin to learn to think for themselves.  These techniques are a system in which the "sum is greater than its parts". When these strategies are used appropriately, a style of interaction emerges that has great success in promoting a child's development. Though these techniques are aimed at altering behavior, they are based on social and moral development.  What we are aiming for are children who are able to think and make choices for themselves, not ones that have been "disciplined" into behaving a certain way for fear of punishment.

Children learn from the consequences of their actions. There are always consequences because behavior happens where some form of a reaction is going to occur. Whether we realize it or not, consequences are happening and children are learning from them. 

The question is - what are they learning? 

These are the messages that we want them to learn:

  1. They are good and capable kids

  2. They are responsible members of a group

  3. They are responsible for their own actions

  4. They can think for themselves and be creative

It is important to understand that children gain progressively greater levels of control, awareness, organization, esteem and self-reliance when they learn in an environment that is based on natural consequences.  For example, if you don't eat your breakfast, you will be hungry until lunch, just as you or I would experience it, we are not sent to our room by our spouse. This "natural" rule will follow them wherever they go in life.

We want to begin teaching children to develop a greater and greater ability to Delay Immediate Gratification.  When they were an infant and we immediately gave them whatever we perceived they wanted.  We are slowly taking this world away from them and they are naturally fighting to maintain their idyllic life where all needs were met instantly.

(i) Reward Appropriate Behavior:  In order to be able to reward the behavior you want the child to repeat, you need to actually pay attention to the child.  You can't simply leave them alone to play, or with a group of other children and expect that they will "naturally" learn the right way to do things.  You need to be present in the child's life so that as soon as you see them begin to perform something that you want them to continue, you can say something like, "Good sharing!  Thank you for sharing!  I like it so much when I see you share!"  

This immediate, specific, positive feedback is what develops a self-aware, self-motivated child.  "Disciplining" bad behavior shames them.  Imagine yourself at work hearing "NO!", or "That's bad!" 10 times more often than you hear, "Good job!  I really like the way you did that!"  It's easy to imagine how those different approaches would leave you feeling

(ii) Natural Consequences:  You need to slowly and incrementally begin applying planned consequences to actions.  When they are one and crying for milk, you can say: "Can you wait please?"  If they stop whining for a couple seconds, you reinforce them with, "Good waiting!  Thank you for waiting!  I like it when you can wait!"