Au­thor O’Keef writes the man­ual that was sup­posed to come with the chil­dren


“If kids came with an in­struc­tion man­ual, it would look like this book”, says au­thor Richard O’Keef about his new book, “How to Get Kids to Be­have: The Man­ual that was Sup­posed to Come with Kids.”

Sev­eral years ago, O’Keef had an ex­pe­ri­ence (de­scribed in chap­ter 1) that com­pelled him to learn ev­ery­thing he could about how to get kids to be­have. He stud­ied what the ex­perts had to say about rais­ing chil­dren. He combed through thou­sands of pages of par­ent­ing books so par­ents wouldn’t have to – over 40 books. He se­lected what he con­sid­ered to be the essen­tial in­for­ma­tion all par­ents need to know – the best parts from the best books. He sim­pli­fied the in­for­ma­tion to make it easy to un­der­stand and easy to do. Then he con­densed it into a short, easy read that only takes a cou­ple of hours to get through. “This is the book I wish I had when I was a young par­ent,” O’Keef said. “Now it’s avail­able to all par­ents.”

The book is di­vided into two sec­tions. The first sec­tion de­scribes six prin­ci­ples that par­ents can ap­ply that will de­crease chil­dren’s de­sire to mis­be­have and in­crease their de­sire to co­op­er­ate. The prin­ci­ples will prob­a­bly come as no sur­prise, but the ap­pli­ca­tion of each prin­ci­ple will give par­ents new ideas to try. For ex­am­ple, the first prin­ci­ple is called “Re­ward Good Be­hav­ior” and sug­gests that “the be­hav­ior that re­ceives the most at­ten­tion is the be­hav­ior that will hap­pen the most.” O’Keef ar­gues that most of the time, the be­hav­ior that re­ceives the most at­ten­tion is bad be­hav­ior, and that if par­ents paid more at­ten­tion to good be­hav­ior, good be­hav­ior will hap­pen more of­ten. He goes on to rec­om­mend things that par­ents can say and do that will re­sult in a change of their kids’ be­hav­ior. For ex­am­ple, a mother might say, “I no­ticed you walked past your brother with­out teas­ing him.” (She’s think­ing: Even if you were across the room and didn’t even no­tice him.) “Thank you.” O’Keef says the more pos­i­tive at­ten­tion you give a child for good be­hav­ior, the more you re­in­force that be­hav­ior.

The sec­ond sec­tion in­tro­duces “tech­niques” that par­ents can use to re­spond to un­wanted be­hav­ior. Be­cause kids are kids, mis­be­hav­ior will al­ways be an is­sue to some de­gree. Tech­niques are skills that par­ents can use when kids mis­be­have. Among the var­i­ous tech­niques are, of­fer­ing a choice, prob­lem solv­ing to­gether, and us­ing con­se­quences to teach. An en­tire chap­ter is de­voted to sib­ling ri­valry and an­other to han­dling tantrums.

Richard O’Keef is the fa­ther of six chil­dren and lives in Salt Lake City. His book can be found on Ama­ in ebook for­mat ($3.99) and pa­per­back ($10.95).

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