Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is using a reward for positive behavior to make sure the child continues with the desired behavior.  The purpose of using positive reinforcement is an effective way to change behaviors without feeling like you always have to be negative (taking away privileges or using time-outs).  This is an effective method of shaping behavior because praise and rewards are both used making it so the behavior is more likely to happen in the future.

At Aspire Counseling in Hutchinson MN we promote positive reinforcement as a tool to get children to listen.

How do you use positive reinforcement???

1. Watch for times your child behaves the way you want them to.

2. Immediately encourage your child for this behavior.

3. Tell your child specifically what they did right.

a.   I like that you used your words to ask for that toy

b.   I love the colors you used in this picture, it really cheers me up

4. At first encourage the behavior every time you see it.

a.   When you see the behavior happening more often you can slowly decrease then number of times you encourage that behavior

·   Be sincere when you praise your child, you are trying to build your child’s self-esteem, not damage it.

·   Make three positive comments for every negative comment, criticism, blaming, or put downs you may use.  A positive approach will help to build a relationship between you and your child.

·   Do Not use  the word –but- when encouraging your child

  • I really liked how you did the dishes but you didn’t put them away

·   Encourage according to your child’s developmental level…a preschooler may appreciate your praise for trying to tie their shoes but a teenager would not welcome this.

·   Children are more likely to repeat behaviors that earn them praise and encouragement.

·   Use descriptive praise- describe specifically what your child has done (describe what you see, hear, and feel)

o Don’t say- You are smart!

o Say- Wow! You studied really hard for that test, you earned that grade!

o Don’t say- You are so nice!

o Say- I really like how you let Sally play with your toys, I bet you had a lot of fun!

Practice, Practice, Practice!