when most of us think of discipline, we may not realize it, but we’re probably thinking of methods that are actually negative reinforcement or out of anger and frustration. Punishment fits into this category, as do some consequences that are enacted in a negative way.
Parenting is challenging at times. So where does positive reinforcement fit in? Can it really help shape behavior? Positive reinforcement does have a place, say, experts – perhaps a very big place.Here are some thoughts and suggestions on the role of positive reinforcement in parenting.
1. Long-Lasting Results
Sources agree that positive reinforcement has longer-lasting results than negative reinforcement. Kids learn to “duck” the negative stuff – punishment becomes the thing to be avoided and the focus is on that rather than behavioral improvement.
Positive reinforcement, on the other hand, encourages good behavior, and behaving in ways that get the reward – the positive reinforcement – becomes the focus instead of avoidance. Being more present in their lives also helps in creating long-lasting results since the time quality time spend with your children helps them to feel loved and cared for.
2. What Constitutes a Reward?
If you’re going to use positive reinforcement, there are some techniques that are considered healthier than others.
* Food – Experts nearly all agree that using food as a reward is not the healthiest thing to do. It may encourage your child to grow into an adult who seeks comfort food as a reward for something, which becomes anything…your child may end up eating “treats” anytime he or she can come up with an excuse.
* Praise – Verbal praise is a great way to offer positive reinforcement. Your kids want to please you (really), and knowing that they’ve made you happy and contributed to a happy atmosphere helps reinforce the good behavior.
* Brag – Tell the rest of the family about the good thing that your child did. You don’t need to overdo it, but let the other parent know in such a way that the child can hear you bragging about him. This makes anyone feel good!
Raising well-behaved children is not easy. Many parents fail. Not because they are inadequate. Not because they lack love for their children. Not because they want something less than the best for their children. Unsuccessful parents are inconsistent. They procrastinate. They give warnings but don’t follow through. They say things they do not mean. The lack patience. The punish in anger. -Sal Severe ( How To Behave So Your Children Will, Too! )
3. Positive Language
Avoiding negative phrases is key. Instead of telling your kids they’re so annoying/frustrating/aggravating/hopeless/etc., verbalize their strengths and positive attributes. It’s amazing how negative language can drag your kids down and cause them to behave badly.
Keep the negative language to a minimum, and when you do mess up, apologize to your kids and let them know why such negative words are not a good idea. You might ask them how it made them feel when you said those negative things, too. Then they’ll be likely to feel heard and validated – which means you just turned a negative “moment” into positive reinforcement!