Think about your interactions with your children today. How
many things did you notice they did wrong? What did you do or
say to them because of their wrong doings? Have they engaged in
the same kind of behavior before? What did you do or say the
times before? Is it working? How many things did you notice your
children did right today? If you did take the time to notice,
what did you do or say to them? Did you praise or reward them in
some way? If so, then read no further and keep up the good work.
If you could use a little work on doing this, then read on.
Let's face it. We parents often neglect to notice the positive
things our children do. Rather, we tend to focus on our
children's negative behaviors, because they either annoy us or
otherwise make our lives difficult. Have you ever heard the
phrase, "that which gets noticed gets repeated?" If all we ever
notice is the negative things our children do, then why would
they do anything different? It is as if we program our children
to believe "if I'm only noticed when I do something wrong, then
so be it."
It is just as important, if not more, to
notice our children's positive behaviors. Remember most
behaviors are controlled by their consequences. Some may believe
rewarding kids for positive behavior is bribery. We all receive
rewards daily for doing things well, at work, at home, and at
play. These rewards often motivate us to continue the behaviors
for which they were received. Where parents use rewards
ineffectively is when they give a positive consequence to stop
an inappropriate behavior. For example, "I'll give you a cookie
if you stop whining." This only encourages the inappropriate
behavior. Where as rewarding kids for their positive behaviors
is quite the opposite and much more productive.
positive reinforcement to strengthen a desired behavior is easy.
Just watch and wait for the behavior to occur then reinforce it
with praise, a pat on the back or a special privilege. It may go
something like this, "David, I really appreciate how you came in
the house when I asked and you even did it without a big hassle.
You should feel good about being able to do that." How about,
"Wow Jamie, your bedroom looks awesome. You must have worked
really hard on it. I bet you worked up a healthy appetite. Why
don't you decide what we have for lunch today."
on your children's positive behaviors could be the most
productive parenting change you make if you don't already do it.
Chances are you have been trained like the rest of us to only
call attention to the bad things your kids do. This phenomenon
isn't found solely in the parent/child relationship. It is also
prevalent in spousal, sibling and employee/employer
relationships. When was the last time your boss called you into
his office and asked you to shut the door? Was it because he
just wanted to tell you what a wonderful job you are doing and
how valuable of an employee you are? If so, lucky you. More than
likely, it was because he wanted to talk to you about something
he thought you could do better or you were doing something
wrong. People tend to take positive behavior for granted and
punish negative behaviors.
Some parents find it helpful
to make a note and put it where they can see it often. The note
might read, "notice the positive" or "catch'em doing good." You
may also want to consider using a jar of consequences, a
parenting tool that parents can use to help them focus on and
reinforce the positive behaviors their children exhibit.
Catch your kids being good. It could have a profound affect on
the atmosphere in your home. Whatever it takes I assure you it
will be worth it.
About the Author:
Destry Maycock, MSW has had over
eleven years experience working with children and families as a
professional social worker. Destry has helped hundreds of
parents solve a variety of parenting challenges and strengthen
their relationships with their children. Destry enjoys
developing tools that help parents with the difficult but
rewarding duty of raising children. His most recent creations
can be found at