A well-known professor and author of behavioral science, Douglas McGregor, examined the methods for prompting proper behavior and concluded that there are two types of theories that people hold regarding the manner in which behavior and responsibility are taught. These two types are called Theory X and Theory Y. Each includes a very different assumption on the approach. By understanding both types of theories, one can become a better parent for motivating and build good behavior and better responsibilities within their children.
McGregor concluded in his studies that people who use authoritative methods for establishing discipline fall under the Theory X assumption. These people demonstrated many beliefs including the belief that discipline should come from the top-down, and that all people beneath must follow accordingly or be reprimanded for their actions, or lack thereof. McGregor believes that this theory is inadequate for full development of human behavior, especially pertaining to child behavior.
Theory X, related to children, is based on the following assumptions:
~The average child does not like good behavior and will avoid it at all costs.
~The average child wishes to avoid responsibilities.
~Because Theory X people believe that children have a natural dislike for good behavior and responsibility, they must be coerced, controlled, directed, or threatened with punishment in order to establish discipline.
These assumptions are not specifically stated by all people that fall under the Theory X beliefs, but their actions seem to lean towards these thoughts. Those people who have some type of Theory X belief usually are sterner with children and may have some characteristics similar to that of a drill sergeant. In most cases, this type of parenting can have very limited results when working with the average child in today’s generation.
McGregor also concluded that the other type of approach, Theory Y, is more consistent with building good behavior and responsibilities within the average child. People that fall into this category are considered motivators, leaders, and goal-oriented influences. The central principle of the Theory Y assumption is based on leading others to success through consistent direction and collaboration. Theory Y followers can transform most behaviors into a positive one without the need for consistent threats and/ or punishments.
Theory Y, related to children, is based on the following assumptions:
~The average child likes the feeling of good discipline.
~The development of physical and mental growth is a natural process in children. Negative approaches to discipline only make children dislike the concept of good behavior; positive approaches reinforce the child’s motivation to have good behavior.
~Children will become more responsible if they have a clear guideline to follow on a consistent basis.
These assumptions carry the momentum of children’s growth and development in a very positive direction. Theory Y encourages growth and development without the need for force. In the average classroom, teachers/ instructors that follow the Theory Y assumptions maintain much better discipline and can easily motivate children to have exceptional behavior. The same approach can be very effective at home as well.
Key tips to remember when building behavior and responsibility:
1. How a person attempts to motivate others depends on how a person views others.
2. People that follow Theory X assumptions believe that children need to be controlled and reprimanded in order to establish good behavior and responsibility.
3. People that follow Theory Y assumptions believe that children will build good behavior and responsibility through encouragement and proper guidance.
Here’s how you can increase your child’s behavior and responsibilities at home using the Theory Y approach:
1. Catch your child doing things right. Say his or her name and what they did to make you proud.
2. Speak of being responsible and having good behavior as being very easy, very fun, and very cool to follow.
3. Consistently provide proper guidance on how to have good behavior and responsibility. If your child falls out of line, provide them with positive feedback on how they can get back on track.
4. Prompt good behavior by pointing out other children that are demonstrating the proper behavior when out in public.
5. Reward good behavior with tons of smiles, hugs, and extra fun family time.
Establishing and maintaining good behavior does not have to make you appear to be the bad guy. Your perception of how your child learns behavior is very important. If you follow the Theory X assumptions, then you risk becoming the bad guy in your child’s eyes. If you follow the Theory Y assumptions, then you will increase your ability to motivate your child. By following the suggestions provided in this report, you will notice your child’s behavior constantly improving in a positive way.