Every parent wants his child to shun anti-social behavior and disobedience, and rightly so. Parents continuously try to discourage bad behavior and enforce positive behavior. However, young minds need something to motivate them to behave in a disciplined manner, at first, and then this becomes their very nature as they mature. In order to reinforce positive choices by their kids, parents across the globe resort to positive reinforcement.
What Is Positive Reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement is when you acknowledge or reward good behavior. This kind of encouragement develops a ‘feel good’ factor among adults and kids alike and motivates them to keep doing the same thing again, if not better. Though it may seem simple it is quite an effective tool and helps to shape good personality and character.
How Does Positive Reinforcement Work On Toddlers?
Toddlers have an impressionable minds. They learn quickly and also get influenced easily. When you encourage your child if he behaves well or does something good it puts the child in a positive state of mind and motivates him to do better. If you encourage him for good behavior and dissuade him for bad the child will learn to adapt to it. Positive reinforcement will greatly influence your child’s future behavior and even define his sense of right and wrong.
Why Should Parents Use Positive Reinforcement for Toddlers?
Positive reinforcement is a great way of encouraging young kids, the child gets to know that his efforts are being recognized and appreciated. For example, pushing a child to keep his toys in the basket can be a herculean task, but whenever he does so, tell him ‘how much you love the way he keeps his toys arranged in the basket’. This will make the child strive to do more things that might as well please you. Plus, he assumes his own validity in your recognizing his efforts.
Children have to make many choices on their own, and fragile as they may be, their choices shape up their futures tomorrow. A child seeks recognition, validity, respect, praise and rewards, and this works as a great promoter of good behavior. Slowly, he will imbibe these values and will become a sensible adult.
5 Benefits of Positive Reinforcement For Toddlers
- Fosters Self Esteem: Positive reinforcement also helps in increasing the self-esteem of a child, since he is showered with praise for something he does well. The same results can never be achieved by categorizing him as a bad boy, or forcing him to do the right things. The child starts feeling that doing good begets good, and learns a very important lesson of life. Giving due credit to the child when he behaves well will boost the child’s self esteem. The child will grow up to be an independent and self sufficient adult. It will develop confidence and assertiveness
- Builds Character: Childhood is the foundation of adult life. The way a child is brought up influences his perspective and defines his character. Motivating your child when he does something good will encourage the child to keep doing better. A good deed when practiced regularly becomes a habit and good habits develop into a good character
- Motivates the child to do better: A simple pat on the back or small tokens of appreciation like ‘Good job’ or ‘Well done’ serve as strong boosters. A child when appreciated strives to repeat his accomplishment. This is a good practice since it will motivate the child to aim for higher goals when he grows up
- Helps parents to understand their child: When you regularly practice positive reinforcement you learn what motivates your child and what doesn’t. You begin to understand what drives the child to achieve goals and what stimulates him to do better. Such little gestures help you understand your child’s thought process and even his liking and disliking clearly
- Strengthens parent-child relationship: Constant encouragement and reinforcement develops a healthy relationship between the parent and the child. When you appreciate and acknowledge your child’s good behavior chances are the child will learn from his mistakes when you scold him for his wrong doings
5 Things To Pay Attention To When Using Positive Reinforcement For Your Child
- Do not reward unnecessarily: It is important to understand when to appreciate or reward a child. You cannot reward your toddler for every single thing he does well. There are certain things that a child should learn and do on his own, rewarding his every move will spoil the child and the child will begin to do every single thing with an intention of gaining something in return
- Do not give in to tantrums: If you dissuade your child from doing something and the child throws a tantrum or starts crying, do not let the child have his way. Stay put on your words otherwise the child will not take you seriously. Even when you positively reinforce his good behavior the child will not truly appreciate it
- Don’t get lavish: Positive reinforcement does not mean you shower your child will gifts and rewards. Simply telling the child that he or she has been a good boy or has done a good job will suffice. You could give him a candy when he has done exceptionally well or you could even draw a star at the back of his hand as a reward for good behavior
- Do not bribe: Many parents misunderstand reinforcement for bribing. There is a huge difference between the two. Reinforcement is when you recognize and appreciate your child’s good behavior. Bribing is when you promise your child something if he behaves a certain way. If you bribe your child, chances are your child will only behave well for material things. Our main aim is to cultivate a good habit and not to lure the child by things in exchange for good behavior
- The reward should match the accomplishment: You cannot give a huge bar of chocolate to your toddler just because he says ‘Thank you’ and ‘Please’. For small accomplishments like these ‘Good girl/boy’ and ‘Very good’ will suffice. The reason behind this is that we do not want to spoil our kids by giving them candies and toys for every single thing they do
Every child is different and in time parents learn what motivates their child. Use this knowledge to cultivate good behavior in your toddler. These small deeds will help you raise a strong, confident and good natured individual.