Behaviorism at Home: A Reflection of My Childhood

14 Oct

Growing up with my grandmother and grandfather has been a great privilege for me. While I did miss my mother all the time, they gave me all the love and care that a child needs to turn into a confident, well-rounded person. I’m also proud to say that my grandparents have disciplined me well. I try my best to uphold good values and do good deeds every day.

 

To explain how behaviorist principles were applied in our home, I decided to enumerate some of the behaviors that my grandparents reinforced and punished when I was still a child.

 

1.)    Not eating everything on my plate

 

Photo Credit: cartoonstock.com

Photo Credit: cartoonstock.com

 

In our house, my sister and I weren’t allowed to leave our plates unfinished. We had to finish everything on our plate before we can leave the dining room and play or watch television. I guess we can relate this to the Premack principle. If we finish everything on our plate (desired behavior), we will be rewarded with enjoyable activities (playing or watching television).

 

I don’t remember being punished for not finishing my meal, but I do remember one time when my grandmother ignored me for hours because I didn’t eat everything on my plate.

 

2.)    Cleaning the house

 

We didn’t have a helper, so my grandpa and grandma were the only ones who kept our house in tiptop shape. Though I was really lazy sometimes, I always feel the urge to help them with household chores because I know that they’re not getting any younger. Every time I clean my room or other parts of the house, my grandma smiles at me, kisses me (social reinforcers), or promises to take me to McDonald’s for a happy meal (tangible reinforcers). I guess this encouraged me to help clean our house more often.

 

3.)    Doing my homework

 

My grandma used to help me with my assignments when I was in preschool. But when I entered Grade 1, I started working on my assignments alone. My grandpa is at work during weekdays, so I just remember my grandma checking if I have done my assignments for the day or not. She also checks whether I answered the questions correctly, and she gives me a pat on the back afterwards. This is also a great example of social reinforcers.

 

4.)    Getting good grades

 

My mother is far from home (she works in Japan), but she calls us every time she’s not too busy at work. When I tell her about my high grades, I can feel how happy she is at the other end of the line. She also tells me that she’s very proud of me. This is another great example of social reinforcer, but I have a feeling that my mom was unconsciously strengthening good behavior (studying hard) by simply showing how happy she was with my performance at school.

 

5.)    Losing my school stuff

 

My grandma used to spoil me when I was a child, but I guess my grandpa compensated for this because he’s a lot stricter than my grandmother. He always tells me that I should take care of my stuff (my toys, crayons, and school stuff) because my mother works very hard to provide me with everything I need.

 

When I was in grade school, I kept losing my ruler so my grandpa always buys a new one for me. One time, he got really angry with me because I talked back. Being the spoiled brat that I am, I told him that I’m fine with not studying forever if he won’t buy me a new ruler. He took me outside the house and left me there for about thirty minutes.

 

I guess this type of punishment was very effective for me. When I was inside the house, I really felt angry at my grandpa for scolding me every time I lose my school stuff. I tell myself that we can actually buy dozens of rulers, crayons, or whatever I wanted if my grandpa weren’t that stingy. But when I was outside the house, I had the chance to think about what I did. I felt guilty for not taking care of my things, and I felt really bad for talking back and not backing down. When my grandpa allowed to come inside the house, I said sorry and rushed to my room afterwards.

 

This is one of the very few times that I was punished for bad behavior. This incident made me cry a lot, but it helped me realize one thing—money doesn’t grow on trees so I should be thankful I have everything I need. Since then, I started taking extra care of my stuff.

 

Growing up to be a Conscientious Individual

 

Photo Credit: cartoonstock.com

Photo Credit: cartoonstock.com

 

I was rarely punished for bad behavior, but I believe that I turned out quite well. My cousins used to tease me for being a spoiled brat (getting everything I wanted). However, after giving things some thought, I don’t really think I was that spoiled. Sure, my grandparents tried to provide me everything I want (toys, good food, etc.) but I knew that they were just making up for the fact that my mother isn’t with me.

 

Also, my grandpa and grandma were very consistent when reinforcing or punishing me for certain behaviors. Although my grandma doesn’t favor punishments, I never saw them arguing about differences in the way they disciplined me. They also offered reinforcements and punishments right after I do something good or bad.

 

Thanks to my grandma and grandpa, I grew up to be a person who knows exactly what is right from what is wrong. They never forced me to do my homework or perform well in class, but I had always had a feeling that I owe that to them. Unlike other kids, I also felt really guilty about pangungupit, or getting money that I know isn’t mine. When they ask me to buy things for them, I always give them the exact change.

 

I did all these things out of love, not out of fear. I’m proud to say that my grandparents and my mother raised me well.

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One Response to “Behaviorism at Home: A Reflection of My Childhood”

  1. monetteabalos October 14, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    Nice post!

    I agree that acceptance is one of the important considerations in rearing a well-rounded individual. Doing thing out of love and not out of fear is also a very good idea.

    Thanks

    Monette:)

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