How I Do It: Positive Reinforcement

Alright y’all, I’m bringing you another update on my ‘How I Do It’ series.  If you missed last week’s it was all on Discipline.  Check it out here.  This week it’s all about Positive Reinforcement.  Focusing on the positive helps change behavior.

How I Do It: Positive Reinforcement

I know I’ve done a segment on disciplining, but I thought I should balance out that segment with rewarding good behavior, as well.

Incentives.  Rewarding good deeds, even when it isn’t requested.  The in-your-face reward is ‘If I ask you to do something (i.e. put the books back on the bookshelf), then I’ll give you a treat.’  While I totally agree that this does exemplify positive reinforcement, I feel like many times when I’ve seen that my child has done a good deed – without being asked – that that deserves an even better recognition.  It shows that they know how to help, love, etc. on their own.  And I think acknowledging that, whether it be by a candy treat, big hug, or even just telling them that you noticed their action, works wonders.  And the end result always, always, always ends with a smile.  And to me, that’s the best part!  And even better?  Because you noticed them and praised them, they’re bound to do it again and again!

Tasks that deserve rewarding.  Most good behavior deserves a reward, but it doesn’t have to.  If a child always thinks they’re going to receive a treat, for doing things they’re supposed to, then they’re probably going to get pretty frustrated when you tell them that they don’t get one this time.  I always make it a ‘maybe you will, maybe you won’t’ situation, when it comes to treats.  And let’s be honest, if they can make their bed, they don’t need a treat EVERY time they do it.  One thing to note, make sure you verbally thank them while rewarding them and explain why they’re receiving the treat.  It’s easy to toss them a piece of candy and say ‘good job’, but that’s not enough.  Which leads me to chores…

Chores are fun!  Even as young as my girls are, they can still help out around the house.  Make it a game!  My girls sort our socks, calling it ‘The Matching Game.’  And they seriously fight over who gets to help mama undo the dishwasher.  At their age, they want so badly to do everything I do.  And one thing I’ve learned, thank them every single time they help you.  Once they realize you’re “using” them, they’ll stop with the eagerness to help (coming from experience here – ha).

Update: Now that my children are older, I don’t make it as much of a game anymore.  But they do want to help you.  In a perfect world, every child would clean up the game they just finished and put it back, clean up the Legos and put them in their appropriate place, cheerily offer to help set the table, make their bed, etc.. but let’s be honest, that’s not reality.  So what I’ve learned is to rewards the helpers, and if you have more than one child and the others don’t want to help, purposefully reward the helper in front of the ones not wanting to chip in.  Trust me, it may not sound nice, but it makes the world of a difference.  I’m not saying to always reward the helpers every single time, but do it randomly.  That way they’ll start wanting to do it because they want to, not because they have to.  Show them with a smile, a hug, etc. and tell them how happy it makes you that they’re helping.  Your children love when they’re praised by you.

Be consistent.  Don’t constantly reprimand your child.  Let the praises outweigh the scolding.  Obviously, don’t overdo it.  But they’re more likely to do the right things if you applaud the good behavior instead of harping on their misdeeds.

Be the example.  You have no idea how much your child looks up to you…even if you think they don’t.  Even when on a phone call, having a conversation with your husband, wife, friend…actually anyone for that matter, even the grocery store clerk, they’re watching you.  They’re watching you and observing how you handle every situation.  I know they’re not watching and judging, they’re just little sponges.  They soak it all in and most of the time it’s not even on purpose.  If you’re happy and positive in your actions, they’re bound to act the same way.  So the next time you’re stressed and need to talk to your mom/dad/friend and let it out, move away from a child’s listening ear.  If you can help it, don’t do it in the carpool line or in the car driving somewhere.  Or if you have something to discuss with your husband/wife, not appropriate for little ears, wait until after they’ve gone to bed.  And if you can’t wait, move somewhere that they can’t hear you.  It really does make a huge difference.

One thing to remember is that if your child, just like mine, acts out with tantrums and screaming, he/she may not be getting the attention they want/need.  I understand that young children think they are the center of the universe, they do need to know that they aren’t always going to receive constant attention.  But by rewarding good behavior, it not only shows them you care, it gives them attention – hopefully decreasing the number of tantrums.

Feel free to share your thoughts and insights on how you use or have used positive reinforcement with your children.  Does it work for you?  Any extra tips you can provide?

We got back from Ocean Isle on Saturday.  I was so excited to see Lanier after a week away!  He took off two weeks earlier this year, one for our Spring Break trip to Sanibel and the other for our trip to Mexico, so he unfortunately had to miss last week’s beach trip.  But we leave for Pawley’s this Sunday and he gets to join us for the entire week.  Super excited about that!

How cute is the dress I’m wearing?  I’m in love with it!  The straps are adjustable, love the fabric and of course my favorite, it has pockets!  And the very best part?  It’s on sale!  It runs big, make sure and size down.  I’m wearing a 4, but could’ve even tried a 2.

Some of y’all asked about my red fringe earrings and if I thought they were heavy.  I used to never wear dangly earrings because I hated anything heavy on my ears.  I’ve slowly come around, but will only wear dangly earrings if they’re not too heavy.  These are super lightweight.  I’ve already worn them so much, and I’ve only had them about a week.  The price isn’t too bad either – at $38.  My dress is currently still on major markdown.  Use code: HOORAY at check-out.

After a quick trip home to do laundry, unpack and re-pack, we left for Charlotte yesterday. This top quickly became a favorite as soon as I tried it on.  The fabric is super comfy – perfect for our road trip – and how cute are the ruffle sleeves!  For fit, it runs a little small.  I didn’t want mine too fitted, so I went up to a medium in it. // Shorts (size down, they run big) // Flip Flops // Paired these earrings in vivid flamingo with it, and they’re only $8 with code: HOORAY!

Hope y’all have a great start to your week!

If you have 4th of July plans, be safe!