Using Positive Reinforcement To Encourage Good Behavior in Children 

There have been quite a few debates regarding the most appropriate way to discipline children. Some parents utilize a more authoritarian approach while some may be a little more permissive. Other parents may take on an authoritative parenting style. According to The American Mental Health Association, authoritative parenting is the most effective form of parenting. A parent using this style will set clear expectations for their child while still exhibiting affection. When dealing with poor behavior, both the parent and child work together to overcome these challenges using this form of parenting. However, dealing with behavioral challenges can be really difficult as many parents may not know the best way to effectively eliminate or discourage these behaviors. While there are many effective techniques out there, one approach that all parents should consider is positive reinforcement. 

The American Psychological Association described positive reinforcement as “a behavior that is followed by the presentation of an appetitive stimulus, increasing the probability of that behavior.” In other words, encourage positive behavior by giving the child rewards to motivate them to continue to improve and use that good behavior. Positive reinforcement is actually quite beneficial in several ways.

Positive reinforcement can boost your child’s self esteem by allowing them to see themselves as “good” instead of “bad.” They will also feel positively about the choices they have made. This type of reinforcement will help them to develop stronger confidence while negative reinforcement would simply make them feel as if they can never do anything right. 

Through this approach, children will see an increase in motivation to do more than what is expected of them as they see that there are more rewards in doing so- this could also be beneficial to parents.

Children can also develop a strong sense of personal responsibility which can benefit them both short-term and long-term. 

Before attempting to use positive reinforcement, it is important to know what things actually motivate your child. While one person may be okay with a simple “Good Job”, this may not work the same for another. However, there are a wide variety of ways to “reward” your child. 

Rewarding your child could be as simple as a High Five, a hug, smile, or “I’m proud of you.” Rewards can also be a special treat like ice cream, a toy they’ve been asking for, a trip to their favorite place, or joining them in one of their favorite activities. 

How do you use positive reinforcement in your household? Comment below! 
Sources:

apa.org

Kidshealth.org

aacap.org

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2 thoughts on “Using Positive Reinforcement To Encourage Good Behavior in Children 

  1. My theory is the successful method depends both on the child and also what comes naturally to the parent. Children have their own unique needs and parents have their own natural styles. It’s about integrating both.

    1. I definitely agree with you. This post was just about ONE method that could be used. I will probably cover others in the future. Positive reinforcement is something I use all the time for my girls and it typically works. I won’t say ALWAYS, but the majority of the time it does work to get them to continue using the desired behavior.

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