Parenting Toolbox: Grandma’s Rule

Experts, parents, and bystanders all agree that parenting is tough. Having been in the counseling and parenting field for the last 18 years, I can acknowledge how tough parenting can be. Parents are trying to love, nurture and keep their child(ren) safe all while maintaining a home, employment, and other life obligations. It helps if we, as parents, have quick little techniques and parenting hacks to get us through. 

Today I’m going to talk about an oldie but goodie parenting strategy that helps identify a clear expectation, while providing an opportunity for self-regulation and reward. Have you as a parent ever heard of the term “Grandma’s Rule” or “Grandma’s Law?” This is a simple little concept that has been classed up and identified as the Premack Principle, utilized in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) treatment for children – that more probable behaviors will reinforce less probable behaviors.

“Grandma’s Rule” is the opportunity for a parent to utilize this concept by setting an expectation of “first you do this, and then you can do that.” – “First you eat your vegetables, and then you can have dessert.” You can spice it up when you need your child to comply with a chore. “When you pick up your clothes, then you can play outside.” Simple, direct, with a reward built in once compliance is achieved. It allows your child to regulate their behavior, while providing a clear expectation and a preferred reward in one sentence. No back and forth discussion needed, and your child has the option to comply or not to comply. 

This intervention is an easy and effective intervention that has substantial research behind it in the world of ABA. Behavioral experts utilize it in treatment planning, classroom settings, compliance in the home; but you as a parent do not need to attend a lecture on applied behavioral analysis to utilize it. Just remember the simple concept of first/then and when/then when making requests, and you should reduce non-compliance and arguments about requests. Adding this simple direct parenting hack to your current parenting strategies will put yet another tool in your parenting toolbox, and potentially reduce negative behaviors. If you wish to learn this and other parenting tools, schedule an appointment today.