Every child is unique. Each has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. This doesn’t only apply the physical appearance but also in terms of behavior. Nowadays, the behaviors of the children are more difficult to manage. These are caused by different factors. Some say it is because the children are too exposed to gadgets, which creates barriers in building relationship with others. Some may say it is because of how the kids were brought up. All of these maybe true but the most important thing is to find ways on how to reduce or better yet eliminate these unwanted behaviors. One way is called “Positive Reinforcement.”
When a child misbehaves, rewarding will definitely the last thing we want to do. However, positive reinforcement can be the most effective way for behavior modification. Basically, positive reinforcement is giving something to a child when wanted behavior is observed. For example, you asked a child to climb up and down the ladder, once done; you can give positive reinforcement like praise. You can say “Great job for climbing up and down, Nina.” Through this positive praise, Nina would want to do it again properly. Thus, good behavior is reinforced.
Usage of positive reinforcement also encourages good social behaviors like sharing, gentle hands and following directions. It can also be used to prevent unwanted behaviors like hitting and not following rules. It’s a great way to encourage our children to be responsible not only in school but also at home. This can motivate them to do chores or even complete home works without argument.
What are the examples of Positive Reinforcement with kids?
Children find it motivating to hear VERBAL PRAISES.
- “Good job for (state the good behavior)”
- “That was great! Do it again!”
- “Everyone look at (name of child)’s work, it’s beautiful!”
Children appreciate GESTURAL REINFORCEMENTS too.
- Thumbs up!
- Giving a hug or a pat on shoulder
- Cheering for them
- High five
Children love tangible REWARDS.
- Star or smiley stamps
- Favorite drink
- Favorite treats
Offer your children special PRIVILEGES!
- Extra time in playing
- Dinner at McDonald’s
- Bring them to playground
- Smores making in the backyard
- Play dates with friends
- Go to mall
- 10 more jumps on trampoline (Children love it when you treat them outside in their favorite fast food restaurant.)
(Let them make smores in the backyard with their friends.)
There are many more kinds of positive reinforcement. You can be as creative as can be. Since you know your child more, you will have more ways to reinforce their good behaviors.
What are the behaviors to be reinforced?
- Showing good manners (greeting & saying sorry)
- Playing quietly and nicely
- Waiting patiently
- Complying with a request right away
- Completing a task in school or at home
- Helping a friend
- Putting extra effort on work
- Sitting nicely
- Paying attention
- Completing a task before given time
- Sharing a toy/food
How often should we reinforce our children?
When your child is learning a new behavior or working on specific skills either at home or school, it is important to give positive reinforcement consistently. Children can be tricky. If we give them reinforcement randomly when a good behavior is seen, their behavior won’t change. However, it doesn’t mean that if your child throws his/her trash in the dustbin, you would offer a reward. You can set up a reward system where you can give them an immediate positive reinforcement in form of sticker or stamp. Then, these can later be exchanged for bigger rewards.
Once the desired behavior is consistent and evident, you can fade out the reinforcement. Once they mastered that specific skill, you can also give them surprise reinforcement it is proven to be effective especially for kids.
We should always acknowledge the positive behaviors that our children are showing as this will help them feel appreciated and motivated. Just remember not to overuse these reinforcements. You know your child more than anyone else. Plan ahead, be systematic and be open to them.