110

Tips for Emphasizing the Positive

Tips for Emphasizing the Positive - All About Learning Press

After my barn chores this morning, I took Oskar out for a short walk on a lead rope.

As we walked, Oskar made that wonderful blowing noise that horses make through their nose. It’s a sign of relaxation, and I happen to think that it’s really cute when ponies do it.

I decided it would be fun to encourage Oskar to blow, so I “clicked” to let him know that I liked it.

I make a clicking noise with my tongue, and Oskar has learned that the sound means that he did something right. The click is followed by a small bit of grain.

Oskar’s ears went up right away. “Oh, yay! What did I do right?” he wondered. He experimented a bit as we walked and tried to figure out which behavior I was looking for. He tried several things: he rubbed his head on his leg, he shook his mane…and then he blew. “Click!”

Ah! He guessed right, and he was pleased. Over the course of a ten-minute walk, he blew approximately twenty more times, and each time he received a click and a treat.

It’s a simple feedback system that works great.

When I catch Oskar doing something that I like, I give him instant positive feedback in the form of a treat, verbal praise, or a rub on the shoulder. He quickly learns what the “right answer” is, and then he repeats it.

Oskar has learned other behaviors this way. On cue, he will “smile,” give a “hug,” nod his head yes, and shake his head no. He enjoys experimenting to see what will earn him praise or attention.

Just as important, I ignore behaviors that I don’t want to encourage. If Oskar nudges my arm, for example, I ignore it. If I gave him attention for it, he would repeat it, and I’d end up with a pushy horse. So I’m very intentional about which behaviors I reward and which I ignore.

A surprisingly similar dynamic exists with our children. The more we reinforce something, the more likely our children are to repeat it.

There is an art to reinforcing positive behavior, and the basic principles include:

  • Catch the learner doing something right.
  • Give specific praise immediately.
  • Give frequent positive feedback. In order to do this, lessons need to be broken down into small incremental steps that are realistically attainable.
  • Be consistent.
  • Work on one thing at a time.

How does this look in real life?

I was once tutoring a girl who had a grumpy attitude toward learning to read. Because of failures earlier in life, she lacked motivation. I knew that my first job would be to find something that she was doing right and build from there.

So when I caught her doing something correctly, I pointed it out to her. “When the words didn’t make sense in that sentence, you went back and sounded them out. Excellent!” With consistent positive feedback, she began applying her phonics skills.

During another lesson, we were specifically working on reading with expression. She normally read with a flat, lifeless tone. The moment she had the tiniest bit of expression in her voice, I praised her for her risk-taking. “You are bringing the story to life!” I told her. With immediate and clear feedback, she learned to add beautiful expression to her reading.

When you give immediate positive feedback, it’s like taking a picture for your student.

It’s like saying, “What you just did there, that is EXACTLY what we are looking for. Keep it up!” Delayed feedback or negative feedback doesn’t have nearly the same power.

Feedback doesn’t have to be wordy, either. In fact, most of the time, one word is all it takes. “Yes!” “There!” Even a happy “mm-hmm” sound will do. You can use anything that marks the moment that the child did exactly the right thing.

Children (and ponies!) want to learn and develop. They want to do things correctly. So when your child is learning a new skill, deliberately point out when he is correctly applying it. Use clear, immediate feedback to tell him what he is doing right, and then he’ll seek to do it purposefully. This develops confidence, and lessons become pleasurable for both you and your child.

Have you noticed the difference between using positive and negative reinforcement with your kids?

< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Comment

Charis

says:

Good reminder!

Great post! I think this same technique applies to all discipline issues too–not just schooling attitudes! I call it watering the flowers and picking the weeds. :)

Beth Baker

says:

My daughter responds very well to positive and very poorly to negative reinforcement. Naturally. It’s one of the most challenging parts of parenthood; always working towards having right, loving responses.

Jonana

says:

I try to have random, surprise rewards for making a good decision.

Brad

says:

I try to provide encouraging comments as my children demonstrate accomplishments in their different curriculum. For example, a big hug or a a big tickle for getting their math problem answers right.

Heather N.

says:

I try to remember to – instead of letting the simple things go (like handing his brother a toy) to remember to say “thank you!” or “That was really nice of you!” Sometimes I can’t ignore the wrong behaviors (hitting, etc.) so I want to make sure the good things get more praise than the bad things get consequences (or at least try to equal it out!) :)

Andrea Jones

says:

High fives seem to work with my younger boys. But I tend to struggle praising/ reinforcing the good with my older daughters. Something I need to work on.

Jenifer

says:

I really need LOTS of reminders to keep things positive. Even though I know staying positive is BEST, I often fall into patterns with my struggling reader that aren’t very positive at all. Thanks for the reminder about positive reinforcement!

Lindsey

says:

Great post! I like to catch them doing something right and praise and encourage them for it.

Rebecca

says:

What a great reminder to really “train” our children in the way they should go… not just discipline! We have been high-fiving our kids when they complete hard tasks and smiling into their eyes when we are pleased with their behavior. And telling them what a good job they are doing sharing with their sisters or what a big helper our son is being. Wonderful parenting reminders!

Amanda

says:

I will give my daughter a comment of praise and a high five for doing a good job. She gets really excited that I am so pleased that it causes action on my part and she gets a big grin on her face.

Heather

says:

Thank you for your blog post! I try to encourage my girls by giving specific praises as much as possible instead of just general approval. Also, I try to make it a point to have them show their daddy what they have been learning and when he gets excited for them, it really makes them excited about what they are doing.

Melody Stroud

says:

I am trying to encourage the hard work and effort put forth by my girls. Instead of saying, “Wow, you’re really smart,” I say, “I like how completed that task without any errors! I could tell you were working hard!”

brandy

says:

isn’t it funny how you can take a class on how to train a dog (with positive encouragement) and not kids?? anyways, i try to remember always to just stress what a great job they are doing on VERY SPECIFIC things.

Michelle

says:

Great article! Stickers or other rewards are great motivators for my kids to do better!

Katie

says:

Stickers, “good jobs”, etc. are what we use in school. Extra play time, a video, or a treat at dessert for other stuff.

JenRay

says:

I am pretty good t this when it comes to school, but I need to remember it in some other areas. My 3-year-old is in a more defiant than compliant place right now, and it seems like everything is a battle. I need to remember to catch him doing the good things. Thanks!

Dustee

says:

I LOVE catching them doing something caring and positive! It has really made a difference with my two kiddos.

Chanda

says:

Being positive really can make or break a lesson and really how our entire day goes. When we’ve all just gotten off on the wrong foot, I declare an hour or so break and announce that we’re starting the day over happier. It usually improves everyone’s cooperation.

Michelle

says:

I really really try to emphasize the positive. It is a long term goal of mine to continue to improve at it. I know its an area that I can do better in especially some days. I notice such a big difference on those days that I do a good job emphasizing good progress, positive behavior, etc. There is a huge trickle down effect. I praise one child’s good work, behavior, etc and suddenly everyone is trying harder, behaving better etc. I have even noticed it with chores. I praise my 2 y.o. for helping out and then my 6 y.o. is helping with an even bigger project.

Jenn

says:

I’d like to think that we’re pretty positive around here. Anytime the kids do what they’re asked to do with a happy heart, we respond with, “Thanks! I love your attitude.” Or just a big, “Thanks,” for their help, etc. On numerous occasions I’ve overheard the kids handle a disagreement between themselves by trying to calmly talk things out without me in the room. I’ll make a point to go to them and tell them that they handled that very well and that I was proud of them.

Angela

says:

My daughter is doing great with her reading, but she gets impatient and doesn’t like to sound out words. If she doesn’t get it right of the bat, she gets frustrated. Anytime she takes to time to sound out an unfamiliar word I always try to make a big deal of it. Then she is usually more willing to take the time later.

Jaime B

says:

Positive reinforcement goes a long way! My daughter has had a bad attitude in regard to phonics, even though she does really well with it. I found that if I remind her she knows the material she is working on and say “don’t let the (word/sound/whatever) trick you!” and then praise her specifically for what she did well then she beams and often finishes well. I also give her small tasks, but she has started choosing to finish a whole lesson on her own because she believes she is a Super Reader. Yay! :)

Shelley Quiroz

says:

Hugs, kisses and high fives work well for my affectionate daughter. As well, I like to let family members know how great she is doing within her earshot. Then they get to congratulate her too.

Angel F

says:

Positive reinforcement is a great motivator for my kids! Alot of the the time is little postive words or sounds, or hugs. They get so excited when they know they are doing something right.

Sandi

says:

So far so good with your programs. We are starting to get into more difficult lessons and I can see where positive reinforcement helps my daughter to keep trying and not get frustrated. Thank you for creating such great programs!

Rebecca

says:

I so try to do positive reinforcement with my three girls, especially since there are at times a tendency towards hysterics when the not so good behavior starts to appear and I try to nip it in the bud before it goes out of control. Hugs, saying Thank you, allowing a treat such as learning a new joke, helping Mommy with some special are all ways I try to encourage my girls in their behavior.

Sabrina

says:

Your example with Oskar was so neat to read about! I fully agree with you, but I sometimes find it hard to keep it in mind with two three year olds who are constantly testing me! Still I find that the positive always works better than the punitive/negative.

Stephanie Dobbins

says:

Lots of hugs and kisses. My sons loves high fives and my daughter loves being able to do her work in her bedroom!! Great positive reinforcement for my kids!

Pam

says:

There is something so wonderful when a student responds to the positive praise, smiles, tangible rewards, but this year I have a student that I can not reach. He is so negative, even when given praise, and as of yet, he has not ‘melted’ one bit. He also hasn’t shown much progress.
Despite this one, I believe that positive reinforcement is huge in helping these struggling learners who have faced discouragement and disappointment.

Mariah

says:

I am not too good with positive reinforcement, but I have noticed when I animate my reaction to my daughters work, even if the response is negative, she responds better. These were great tips, I’ll work on implementing them! Thanks!

Kristi

says:

I am honestly not good at positive reenforcement. It’s something I desperately need to work on.

Jen in Jersey (soon to be Texas)

says:

My dog responds VERY well to clicker training, my daughter not so much. I have been trying to get her to improve her handwriting and so I give positive praise every time I notice any improvement. Unfortunately I think she feels this is cheesey or false and shell roll her eyes at me. It is as if she doubts my sincerity or her ability to write well.

Kelly

says:

Emphasizing the positive is definitely something I have been very focused on recently. We are nearing a time of year in which we normally experience a bit of a slump with regards to all of our attitudes and motivation. It is for this reason I am striving to keep my focus on things that build each of my kids up and really praising their efforts when they try their best!

Carol

says:

I totally agree! Catching them doing something right is very valuable, as are reminders like this one to do just that! It’s so easy to slip back into focusing only on what they do wrong. Much of the time my “praise” is a simple thumbs-up, or a little cheer “yay!” when they get something right. Something as simple as that always brings a smile to my daughter’s faces. And getting to put stickers on their progress charts is always met with cheers of their own! Thank you for a creating such an enjoyable, effective, and in-depth spelling program. We’ll be moving up to level 5 next month, and we’re all still loving it!

Nedene

says:

Staying positive about things and giving praise when a child is struggling has changed our school attitude from night to day. Now my children strive for praise. I can’t complain when they want to try their best and work through the hard parts.

Patience

says:

Praises work wonders, I have to try to remember to use them more often.

Sharlynn

says:

Wow! Wonderful tips! I do give verbal praises and hugs. However, I think I’ll need to be more specific in the praises. Also, I never fail to tell them I love them everyday!

Melinda S.

says:

One thing I’ve found with my perfectionists is that they respond better to being told “I can see you worked hard on this” than they do to “you are smart.” The former gives them something they can do again, but the latter makes them afraid to show what they really believe to be true, that they aren’t as smart as I think they are.

Joy

says:

Whatever you are doing…do it with love and a smile. Those can go a long way and set the tone for a happy day!

Jennifer

says:

My kids still love stickers! Some days, just a, “You did great!” is what they need to hear.

Monika

says:

My boys definitely respond more to positive reinforcement particularly math.

Cynthia

says:

I try to say a specific praise on something they did right to emphasize the positive…with eye contact and some kind of touch, too.

Cheryl

says:

I think it’s important to mention specific positives–even if they’re small.

Diane

says:

I have found that both of my kids do best when I say things as simple as “You did a good job on that.”. Letting them know with positive feedback on a REGULAR basis is key. A pat on the back, smile, warm words or just a big smile always perk them up.
Also, giving several small assignments has proven a big help. That way there are more chances to tell them they did an assignment well. With my youngest (he is 6 and tends to get sidetracked easily) this is especially important. The shorter the task the more apt he is to complete it in a timely manner. Then, I get the chance to praise him for how well he did.

Elizabeth Alvarez

says:

For my son its that gentle praise you mentioned, those quiet “mmm” sounds that work. Today we were doing AAS book 4 and he built the months with his magnet letters on the white board, copied them with markers (he likes a different color marker for each word) and wrote the abbreviations next to them. Then he said, we’re having a great day aren’t we? Yes we were!

Malinda

says:

Great article! Yes I have noticed that being positive and ignoring negative works well.

Cindy H

says:

Praise works so well. I wished I remembered it more often. Never to late to start!

Dani

says:

This is SUCH a hard thing to remember to do with all of the hustle and bustle of homeschool and busy life in general…I know it to be true and will try to be more positive in all my interactions, school and otherwise!! Thank you Marie!

Lacey

says:

Thanks for this post! A timely reminder as the excitement of school wears off and the negative attitudes start to creep in…

Belle

says:

Thanks for this reminder. I try to link positive reinforcement to character traits.

Cathy

says:

This is wonderful advice and works with kids of all ages, even in a group. If I praise one student, the rest all pick up on that and perform the desired behavior so they get some praise, too!

Rose

says:

Smiles, hugs, excited praises, “bragging” on them to grandparents and daddy.

Jessica

says:

We make a big deal when my children do something with a happy heart and correctly. We give them verbal praise, high-fives/hugs, and even a little treat. This goes with homeschooling and everyday interaction.

Christy McCort

says:

We use a Fruit of the Spirit Jar. I put runts in it and give the kids a piece when I see or hear them doing good.

Amanda Schmidt

says:

I’ve been struggling so much with the consistent misbehavior of my older child, and this blog was like a light bulb for me. I need to change my focus to what she’s doing RIGHT, and ignore the rest. Thank you so much for turning me around!

Danielle

says:

I try to emphasize the things my daughter not only does well, but also the areas where she is creative and passionate. I feel placing emphasis on her ability to think and create teaches her that she is a problem solver and can tackle any struggle she faces.

Rosemary Siemens

says:

Thank you for the wonderful products and blog, and for all the great encouragement!

Brenda May

says:

We have a gold nugget system in our house (idea adopted from Renee Swope of Proverbs 31). The children receive gold nuggets for behavior that is partcularly thoughtful or generous. They can receive a nugget from Mom or Dad and can also nominate a sibling for a nugget. I love this because it means they noticed that someone did something nice for them. The favorite prize for nugget redemption is spending 30 extra minutes with Mom and Dad after the siblings have been tucked in bed. This tool is especially good for me as a Mom, because sometimes when I realize that I haven’t handed out many nuggets, it’s not generally because good things aren’t happening, but rather that I’m just not recognizing and acknowledging them.

Joy

says:

I try to encourage my kids that each is unique. We all have strengths and weaknesses. I also try to work on just developing one habit at a time, so they can experience success instead of getting constantly nagged to do so many things better.

Angela B

says:

My son responds to verbal praise. This program in general has given him more confidence with spelling and reading and that has done wonders for his self-esteem. He actually likes spelling now!

Digna

says:

Loved this article.

Chris

says:

we use a point system. When I see something right I say ding and she gets a point it works really great because she looks forward to earning a prize.

Ayrielle

says:

My son loves praise and really enjoys when we tell him we are proud of him for doing something or give him special hugs or high fives. He gets so excited and wants to do more to earn more praises.

Terri F

says:

I like to emphasize the positive by pointing out to my children what they can do well. I like to sandwich a comment on what needs improvement between two comments on what they do well. I also like to reward them every once in awhile by cutting out busy work on tasks that I know they already know. This alway,s makes them feel good!

Angie

says:

What a wonderful reminder! Sometimes it is so easy to focus on the difficulites we encounter rather than the small blessings we are given along the way. The next time I feel burdened by the struggle of letters learned and then forgotten, I will remember Oskar and “click” out praise to the child that wants so much to please.

Angie

says:

Great reminder! Praise is so important!

Charis

says:

Thanks for the good reminder to praise more! I also liked reading other people’s good ideas for encouragement!

Angela M

says:

I like using the phrase (thank you Love and Logic), “I noticed that . . . ” so they see what they did and can add their own judgement on it. If I like what their doing, and they are in a funk, they’ll not do it, just for spite. Granted, I see a lot less of that spitefulness in my own children than I did in my classroom children. It still helps the kids recognize what they did and attach their own value to that skill.

Robin E.

says:

Interesting article. Something I need to keep in mind more, especially with my student that struggles with almost everything. Thank you.

Cristina

says:

I try to praise them right away. But I also to tell them how well they did on their last assignment even if it is doing the dishes :-) It’s nice to see that their faces glowing.

Jennifer

says:

I see a real difference in my kids when I praise them for a behavior I want to encourage. Thank you for the remind to do this more often. When one of my kids is discouraged by their inability to do something perfectly, but I see that they are trying hard, then I always try to tell them that they are doing a great job and not to be discouraged.

Lf

says:

Thank you to everyone for the reminder to stay positive.

Maren tyra

says:

I always try to do this with my children. I am constantly thanking my children and really respond well and it shows in their behavior.

Tanya

says:

I can see this with my young toddler even now! She makes this cute noise and immediately all around her slather lavish attention..so she does it again and again! Now, to translate that into reading and spelling lessons surely make for great retention and encouragement! Thank you for a great program!

Jennifer S

says:

There are specific chores each day that are on a chart, and I give stickers for those. Thanks for the reminder about immediate feedback, because sometimes I get around to it hours later. I need the reminder that to my dd, it matters that I give her feedback right after the chore.

Naomi O

says:

Great post, great reminder!

Cynthia

says:

Such a cute horse story! My children respond well to big hugs and anything that gets them one on one time with mom or dad. :)

Ari

says:

This is such a great reminder. Why are we operated so backwards. I find that serving the Lord is constantly rewiring me, hallelujah.

Lately, sticker charts work well, as well as earning the opportunity to “perform” for Daddy with their new skill. We have a few minutes each week to show off for my husband, be it reading, playing violin, performing math. They love getting to show him something they’ve mastered.

I also try to look them in the eye and tell them how proud of them I am and how thankful I am that they’ve worked hard, mostly after we’ve made progress on something that’s proved difficult. I bless their effort and highlight their successes verbally and with eye contact. Then sometimes we take a break and run around outside.

Shelby

says:

Great tip! Love Oskar!!!

Joyfulmomof6

says:

What a great reminder. It’s so easy to slip into focusing on the negative unless one is consciously focusing on the positive.
And I totally agree about the horse responsiveness. We have 2 mini horses that we rescued that we do this with.
With my 3 oldest children (now 17, 16 and 14) I used to have a “Caught Being Good” Box of small prizes and trinkets, which I would dole out as earned through our homeschooling week. I think I need to reinstate this with my 3 younger children (9, 5 and 2).
Thanks for the reminder

Christine H

says:

We recently began using a positive parenting program with our son who has a lot of difficulty with attitudes and defiant behavior. Nothing we have done in the past has worked for him as he just rebels against it all. Using the positive approach we have seen a huge difference in him and in his efforts. It is very difficult at times when I am really frustrated not to fall back into lecturing but then I remember we are filling his heart to change his behaviors. The program we are using is called “The Nurtured Heart Approach” if anybody is interested. It is specifically developed for children with “difficult” behaviors however, my mom is using some of the strategies in her Montessori class and is seeing a difference in all of the kids.

Rachael

says:

Oh boy – am I ever interested! Off to check this out right now! (Can you tell I’ve had a bad day?!)

We went to a Christian horse therapy family camp last year and it was just like you mentioned in the beginning. Comparing horse training to child training. Positive reinforcement works! We learned how to communicate to our children which behaviors we want to continue and which we want to eliminate. No empty praise, but real behavior conditioning! It’s made a huge difference, mostly for my husband and his communication with the kids. He didn’t grow up with animals and this was a novel concept for him. I have a psych background, so it was just affirmation for me. It was great for the whole family. Even my eldest daughter (12) and I joke about some of the things we learned: “Don’t keep poking the horse if he’s going in the right direction!”

Cherie

says:

I emphasize positive behavior by giving praise immediately.

Jodi

says:

I need to work harder on this. Teaching three kids ages 7, 8 & 10 can be a struggle at times.

Nikki

says:

I always congratulate and high five when she has done something well. Plus, we make a very big deal about passing a level and coloring in that square. It pumps her up!

Kristy

says:

My daughter responds well to small, consistent compliments. I find that sometimes she doesn’t realize when she’s applying a new skill and when I comment she starts to see her own growth and is encouraged.

Cheryl B.

says:

I have a hard time focusing on the positive instead of the negative but it is something I am really trying to improve. Thanks for this reminder and the tips to make positive feedback immediate and frequent.

Christie Roach

says:

Absolutely agree!!! My son responds so much better with positive praise!

Nikki D

says:

I liked how you described offering feedback like taking a picture. Neat way to think about it.

Lowrie

says:

Reminds me of something one of my college education teachers said: “Catch your students being good and then praise them publicly for it. “

Ann

says:

I know just having more positive comments totally helps
motivate my children, instead of saying things,” like come on
you know this .” Saying things like, “Wow you remembered that
all by yourself.” It makes a huge difference in the approach.

Mia

says:

I had a big ah-ha moment a few weeks back on this same topic. Our kids began to dislike reading and the lessons mainly because I didn’t give a whole lot of positive feedback. I came to this same conclusion and did a 360 on MY attitude. It took a few days, for them to begin changing their attitudes, but they are now picking up books in their free time because they are beginning to believe they are good readers and that reading can be fun (not just a chore). On a side note, this program is the absolute best I’ve ever seen. We have 1st graders who are almost finished with Level 2 reading and spelling and our family can’t believe how well they read, write, and spell!! We can’t wait for Level 3 reading to come out.

Christine Bryant

says:

This is so timely especially with the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Thank you.

Tabitha Zehner

says:

I’m always giving praise to my children. It’s funny though; my eldest daughter gets annoyed. She says, “Mom, leave me alone so I can work!” lol. It’s impossible for me to not see the good they do and comment based on it.

Stacey Williams

says:

Dd’s face just lights up when I “catch” her giving good effort to a task, going out of her way to be considerate of others, or otherwise praise her. She was recently in tee-ball, and every time she ran to first base I’d cheer her on. She was so delighted that she’d often yell back “Thank you Mommy!” once she reached the base. On the other hand, if we’re consistently nagging her on behaviors we’d like her to improve without enough “positive” fuel to keep her going, watch out for drama! No one likes to be criticized all the time (we all need correction and discipline, but sometimes we’re expecting mini-adult behavior instead of cherishing the little children that we have). I try to keep my words in check and think about how I would feel if I were in her shoes, receiving the same encouragement or critiques as I bumble along with a five year old brain and body. It definitely helps me curb the temptation to nag. :)

Madeline

says:

Thank you for the tips. I tend to dwell on the negative too much and this blog has given me some new direction. This year I have started AAS 2 with my son and AAS 1 with my daughter and they both are enjoying the lessons very much. Thank you Marie!

Margaret

says:

Wow thank you Marie! I’m definitely going to put more effort into praising, thank you so much.

Nancy

says:

I previously shied away from a lot of intensive phonics programs because of the huge amount of writing that many of them required. Handwriting is very laborious for a couple of my boys who really struggle with writing. I find that just the fun of using the phonics tiles is a fun, positive rewarding experience for them. THey love this program!

Dani

says:

My daughters really respond to this

Mandy

says:

I try to tell them what they are doing right before going on to things we need to work through.

Laurel

says:

My boys really dislike spelling and dread our lessons. I’m going to make an effort to put these tips into action and see if their attitude improves! Thank you, Marie!

olubunmi

says:

Marie dear,
I like your write up.I am a Þeacher and Consultant.Looking forward to receiving more updates from you.
Olubunmi

Carrie

says:

My kids love hugs and high fives with exaggerated verbal praise.

April

says:

My daughter loves high fives!

Susan

says:

I’ve been trying to teach my daughter to read for several months, and she was not very motivated at all. She did great as long as she tried to sound out the words. Without using a phonics program, though, she didn’t have the tools to properly sound out each word. We started using your All About Spelling program four months ago, and she initially had a very bad attitude about it. She wanted to “know the words in her head” already, or else she wouldn’t try at all. I’m happy to say that after four months of using your spelling program along with positive reinforcement for every time she “segmented” the words into sounds and then put all the sounds together, she’s reading books that she would have never even thought to attempt before. I’ve even caught her picking up books on her own to read to her baby brother, whereas before she would just make up her own words based on the pictures or never even attempt to read it at all. Positive reinforcement has helped me work on encouraging my daughter’s new skill, and as a result her confidence has increased while her bad attitude has greatly diminished.

Celeste Peters

says:

I’m not a teacher, but I totally see this with my three boys. I especially love to point out when they’re being sweet to each other or someone else or being respectful or courteous or well-behaved. They are just bursting with pride and eager to please. My son was in remedial reading at the beginning of this school year, but is already on-level merely from his teacher and his EIP specialist giving him positive reinforcement and encouragement. He went from dreading reading to always eager to show people how he can read. Also, just like one negative comment or attitude from someone can ruin our day, no matter how good it was, for every negative feedback (don’t, this is wrong), we almost have to at least double the positive feedback. In addition, in order to help them, we can’t just say don’t do this, we need to provide what the correct behavior/action would be. How else would they know what the right thing to do looks like? Positive feedback tells them this is the behavior that is correct/appropriate, modeling it for them through reinforcement, not just discussion. For example, don’t say, “Give me that toy NOW,” to your brother, instead say, “Can I have that toy when you’re done?” They’ll be surprised at how different the response is from their brother and when you hear them asking the right way, praise it. There’ll be much greater return for your effort than just saying “don’t” a million times. My best friend who has 5 kids (and 1 on the way) always says to herself, “Rinse and repeat.” You’ll still find yourself saying it a LOT, BUT it may be 1 thousand vs a million.

Candice

says:

I am with you, stay positive, even when they are negative! It pays off and everyone is much happier in the end.

Samantha Bryan

says:

SO true, Marie. It’s amazing how whatever you praise them for, they keep doing – like reading with great expression or stopping long enough at all the full stops (periods). I can tend to be quite negative and I really need to remember this. Can you repost this at the end of January when school recommences in Australia? I’ll need the reminder then! :)

Leave a Comment