It’s no secret that a child’s behavior can be pre-determined by various factors, and a parent’s response to these behaviors can cause a positive or negative impact on the child’s consequent actions. In the same way adults need reassurance to know that their actions are being acknowledged and appreciated, children also need boosts to their tiny egos.
The technique of positive reinforcement can be used by parents to modify and/or solidify children’s good or desired behavior. Whenever a child displays a behavior, there is either a positive or negative consequence. While a child who receives negative reinforcement such as a time-out may be less likely to repeat that action again out of fear, a child who receives positive reinforcement will be motivated to continue doing good, ultimately leading to long-term healthy habits.
There are several ways in which positive reinforcement can be implemented at home. It is important to pay attention to your kids to recognize moments when their behavior merits positive reinforcement. Examples of behaviors to reinforce positively include:
- Playing nicely with their sibling(s)
- Finishing chores on time
- Adhering to your request without complaining
- Practicing manners
- Remaining patient
- Playing quietly
Positive reinforcement does not simply come in one form, but rather there are three main ways to practice recognition of good behaviors:
Verbal Reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to reinforce your child’s behavior. Examples of this include: “Great job on finishing your chores,” or “You were so kind to your sister today. Keep up the good work.”
Tactile reinforcement takes it a bit further by not only praising your child verbally, but also making a point of contact through giving them a hug, a pat on the back, or a high-five.
Materialistic reinforcement can become a favorite for children of all ages for clear reasons. Rewarding your child for their good deeds with an item they want can be a sure way of encouraging correct behavior. This can range from allowing them to have their favorite snack before bedtime to getting the latest toy.
Regardless of the method a parent chooses to use, a consistent pattern of positive reinforcement should be followed to guarantee not only good behavior but overall positive habits.