Let's say your child is fighting with a sibling and your older boy is always picking on his younger sister and you go to this boy and you grab him by his shoulder and you say, “you stop bullying her, you stop doing that or I’m going to hit you.”  

So the child stops at the moment and then it still continues for the rest of the day or the rest of the week.  And the parent runs in and says, cliché parent #45, “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 1,000 times…” Reprimands don’t work by the way, that’s why that expression is really true.  “If I’ve told you once I’ve told you 1,000 times, stop hitting your sister!”  That’s all going to fail. We know that from decades of research now.  

So what to do?  The boy and the girl are interacting nicely, you run in there and you say, “You are playing so nicely, that is really great.”  And then you touch them.  All those three things, effusive praise said while touching them - do that once a day, three times week - and you’ll change the fighting that goes on between them.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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