Friday, May 27, 2011

The Discipline Weekly: The Wonders Of Positive Reinforcement

If you've been following me on Twitter lately, you would see that Aiden and I are right in the thick of the terrible, thunderous three's. And it aint no joke. One minute my lovely little preschooler is all sweet and cooperative, the next, eh, not so much.

This would drive me crazy, except it's totally developmentally appropriate. So I'm being totally child-centered and adjusting to his needs as best as I can. And I'm taking you along for the ride. In what I've dubbed The Discipline Weekly, each Friday I'll feature some quick and easy technique that's been working for me and helping me through this trying precious time.

First up, the very basic: positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement works wonders! I can't stress that enough.

But here's the trick, don't just compliment the kid by saying, "Good job" and "I'm so proud of you." That can get kind of tired, especially when it comes off as phony or insincere.

Compliment the action, and not just the actor. Try to be as specific as possible. For instance, you can say, "I really like the way you said 'please and thank-you'" or "I see you worked really hard at remembering to put your toys back where they belong, good job!"

Bottom line: find something good that your kid did and praise the heck out of that action. And you will surely see more of that particular behavior because they want to please you.

If you don't catch them doing that particular behavior, believe you me, they'll point it out for you by saying, "Mommy, look at me! I'm doing [insert desired behavior here]!"

If you have the energy to consistently do this, I guarantee you this will work wonders in your household... or your money back. Oh wait, you're not paying for this awesomeness.

But really, there have been many times that I was too tired to do anything else and I turned to my fallback plan -- positive reinforcement. And in that moment, if I could have kissed the person who came up with this, I would have.

Try it out and let me know how it works in the comments!


  1. Honey, I have a 2.5 year-old -- I'm LOOKING FORWARD to this weekly discipline post! And you're absolutely right -- positive reinforcement is amazing. It works on husbands, too! :)

  2. Certainly, will have to try this with Moo.

  3. Going to try this. Harlan has just started these tantrums this week and is saying "no" to me every time I ask her to do something! It's driving me nuts!

  4. my daughter is 4.5 months old.. i guess i need to enjoy this time before the terrible 2's and "thunderous" three's start :-) (love thunderous).. thanks for the tips

  5. This is GREAT advice!!! And yes, so much better to give specific feedback than general. Works every time!

  6. Funny that you write about this because I've noticed that Ralphy has been switching from good moments to not so good moments. I was beginning to think he was PMSing.. lol.

    I started doing the positive reinforcement stuff when Ralphy turned 3.. and I noticed he's mood started to change.

    Great tips.

  7. Hmm, I've only been saying "good job" so this is actually good reinforcement for me HA!

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  9. Hunni I use this method in my classroom with my 8th graders. Never fails :0) I actually keep a card tacked to my wall and at home on the fridge with 100 ways to encourage.


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