The Tourettic Bully-Proofer | Blog

The Benefits of Positive Reinforcement

I realize that this rule might be obvious, but you would not believe how many parents I see doing things that are counterproductive in the name of discipline. Using negative language is an example. When my daughter was growing up, I always tried to use words that did not have a negative connotation to them.

This may seem like a small thing—and not related to the topic of bullying—but anything you do to reduce a child’s self-confidence, or that may harm their self-esteem, is relevant. Below are some examples of negative language.

  • Don’t
  • Can’t
  • Won’t
  • Shut up
  • Never

Try replacing “shut up” with “stop” or “be quiet” or “stop talking.” You may be surprised at the results. There are also a number of other actions you can take to encourage good behavior. A pat on the back. A high five. Surprising them with something they really like. It does not have to be something materialistic. It could be something like going for ice cream. This might be especially productive if they are young.

Bragging about them to someone else when you know they are listening. (This helps them to realize how proud of them you are. This is always a good thing.) Unfortunately, this one is not going to win you any popularity contests with other parents. My daughter hates it as well, mainly because I have used the technique so often.

Saying positive things to your child can also help them to develop a strong sense of self-esteem. It might help with self-confidence. But not as much as building their self-confidence through accomplishing different things like riding a bicycle, or doing well in school or getting onto one of the athletic teams at school.

When they are helping you around the house, especially if you have not had to ask them to help, if they make a mistake, don’t jump all over them. This will do far more harm than good. Try to think of a way to show them how to do it the next time so that they will not make a mistake. Help them. Don’t expect them to do everything perfect the first time. You might have to show them different ways of doing whatever it was they are trying to do. When they meet with some success, let them know how much you appreciate it. If they have to continually do something over and over, and they improve each time, let them know that you have noticed the improvement. This will also help their self-confidence.

On a different note. Don’t be afraid to constantly tell them that you believe in them. As aforementioned, let them know that, when they do something really well, you have noticed it and how much you appreciate it. Saying anything with a positive connotation to it never hurts. On occasion, you might surprise them with doing something they really like. Going and getting ice cream. Taking them to a baseball game or even taking them roller skating. Possibly taking them out to eat with just you to give them a chance to bond with you in particular.

Here is the URL to an additional list of 55 things of a positive nature that you can say to your child.

It’s extremely important that you start using positive ways of communicating with you child right from the start. Before they can ever walk or crawl. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in punishment when they continually do something that you have tried to instruct them not to do. But even when this situation occurs, it is important that you make them aware of the fact that you still love them and believe in them.

Another way to show positive reinforcement is to actually listen to what they say when you can. Sometimes you might take five minutes out of your busy day to just sit down on the front porch with something to drink (soft drink), and ask them about how their day is going. It may not be a conversation about the theory of relativity. It could be something that is important to them at the time. You might discover something about them that you did not already know. You might find that they are interested in something that you never knew about before. The point is, it would be a good way to bond with your child for a few minutes. And that is never a bad thing.

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