Parents of children, toddlers – school age, can feel like the killers of joy; because children are so very inquisitive and exploratory, safety concerns are primary at this time. For example, insisting on hand holding when in a parking lot, staying away from the stove when playing in the kitchen, or using “gentle hands” when playing with siblings and the family pet.
Re-direction is key and happens often with our little ones. But It can get to feeling overly negative. That’s where positive reinforcement can become a parent or caregiver’s shining light. Positive reinforcement is praising a positive or desired behavior and can be as simple as saying “I love how you followed directions the first time.”
3 Keys to implementing positive reinforcement to your parenting:
- Letting go of hyper focus on negative behavior. Unless there’s a safety concern, try ignoring negative behavior.
- Provide very specific statements when praising positive behavior, “I really like how you put your dishes on the counter.” or “You did a very nice job of cleaning up your area.”
- Reinforcement is timely, meaning you acknowledge the positive behavior when it happens.
There are a lot of ways to make positive reinforcement fun for both you and your child!
- Create a ritual for Doing Good – Make up a little dance to do when you catch your kiddo doing something good, or even a handshake – it doesn’t have to be complicated and may even be goofy! Children will remember those goofy times and think of ways to repeat it!
- Create a Family Doing Great Jar – Find an old jar and label it the “doing good jar.” Leave it out where the whole family can see and every time your child does something good – add a penny. When the jar is full you can take your child out to a special “doing good” treat with the money. If you don’t want to monetize the reward, you could use homemade coupons for special together time activities instead.
- Create a Doing Good Calendar – post a calendar on your refrigerator and have a stock of stickers your child loves. Every time you catch your child doing good you or your little one can place a sticker on the calendar. This will show your child how often they’ve made great choices.
- Sneak in the Treat (for older kids) – if you have readers in your house leaving a sticky note on their pillow that describes the positive behavior is a sweet nightly ritual.
Parent Coaches at the Parent Trust Family Helpline are happy to connect with you in troubleshooting ways that you can incorporate more positive reinforcement and catch your children being good. Give them a call at 1-800-932-4673