Positive Reinforcement Fostering Bonds & Good Behavior
How Positive Reinforcement Can Change How Children Behave
By Brittany Macks
Children are like sponges, absorbing the world around them and shaping their personalities and behaviors based on their experiences. As parents, caregivers, teachers, and mentors, it is our responsibility to guide them towards becoming confident, well-adjusted, and emotionally resilient individuals. One of the most effective tools in achieving this goal is the practice of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement helps to build a strong foundation in children that contributes to later success.
So, What is Positive Reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement is a behavioral psychology concept that involves rewarding or praising a child's desired behavior to increase the likelihood of that behavior being repeated. Instead of focusing on punishment or criticism for undesirable actions, positive reinforcement emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and encouraging positive behaviors.
“Keep in mind that something like a tantrum doesn't stop immediately just because you ignore it — in the moment, it can get worse before it gets better. Positive reinforcement strategies are an investment in your child's long-term behavior that requires patience and persistence” (Brennan, 2022).
This helps children’s self-esteem by validating their behaviors and decisions that they make. When children receive praise and recognition, they are more likely to continue in that behavior and believe in their abilities, developing a positive self-image. Positive reinforcement fosters a stronger and healthier bond between parents and children. Instead of focusing solely on discipline and correction, it allows parents to connect with their children on a positive level, creating a more nurturing and supportive environment. Positive reinforcement also helps children to regulate their emotions.
Here are some tips to help implement positive reinforcement:
Be specific and be immediate: this allows the child to connect their behavior with a positive outcome.
Use a variety of rewards: verbal praise (e.g., “I’m so proud of you”, “That made me smile when you helped your sibling!”, “I appreciate your kind heart”), small treats (stickers, fidgets, a treat), or a special privilege (one-on-one time with a parent, a special day out to a park, museum, or restaurant).
Set clear expectations: consistency is key, let children know what is expected of them.
I hope that this information equips you with tools to implement in your own home. Children learn from their surroundings. Positive reinforcement is a great tool to use when behaviors seem out of place. This tool empowers children to be more confident, to be more responsible, to be leaders equipped with empathy and care, and nurtures their potential in this world.
Berek, D. L. . M. (2022). Positive reinforcement. Salem Press Encyclopedia.
Brennan, D. (2022, July 19). What to know about positive reinforcement in parenting. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/what-to-know-about-positive-reinforcement-parenting
Gumbrecht, J. (2009, May 04). Rules for kids --- and parents: Adults should use consistent discipline. Children learn from positive reinforcement, negative consequences.: . The Atlanta Journal - Constitution https://lopes.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/newspapers/rules-kids-parents-adults-should-use-consistent/docview/337601183/se-2