Why positive reinforcement works for us

I am a big believer in positive reinforcement. Maybe because my love language is affirmation, I am super sensitive to making sure our kids are well affirmed. And for the most part, I feel like our efforts are working. Especially when Oscar tells me I am doing a good job or thanks me for his snack. I want to raise thoughtful and thankful boys, so the first step in doing so is providing an example of gratitude.

Of course, even well behaved children need to be corrected sometimes and mine are no exception. We definitely use discipline when the boys are deliberately disobedient. But when we are teaching basic skills and boundaries, we rely on positive reinforcement.

Depending on the age of the child, we have employed different forms of discipline and praise. Right now, Calvin (age 1) insists on touching the buttons on the cable box. Sometimes I walk over and redirect him. But other times I firmly say, Calvin NO TOUCH. This is a phrase that he recognizes and when he looks at me and says “nuh nuh”, I know he got the message.

In recent days, he has acknowledged me and either sat down or crawled elsewhere. If this was his response, I would clap and say “yaaay Calvin! That’s good listening!” to which he responds by grinning from ear to ear and sometimes even claps with me. I believe this type of positive parenting takes my words, which my one year old may or may not understand and combines them with my action and tones that he definitely does understand. I can focus on positivity while still teaching him important boundaries.

With our three year old, things are a little bit more detailed, but not more complicated. We have finally reached potty training success and if I am honest, it had nothing to do with us as parents. Oscar was just ready. However, we did make an effort to reinforce his decision by encouraging him with a few tricks I learned from a local center called Project Enlightenment. (Sidenote for local readers: if you haven’t yet discovered the awesomeness of this amazing FREE resource, I highly encourage you to check them out!)

Instead of simply praising his actions as “good” or “right” we reminded him that he should feel proud that he learned how to listen to his body’s signals. He really responded to that technique and I really think it helped him keep the desire to stay clean and dry because he wasn’t doing it to please us. He was doing it because he knew he could. We used a reward chart (similar to these behavior charts from KidPointz) with stickers for the first few days and gave him a few small prizes to keep things interesting. But he has since stopped asking for prizes or stickers and focuses on how he kept himself clean and dry.

At the end of the day, each child and sometimes each situation is different. Sometimes Oscar will respond to a reward as an incentive. Other times, we will reward as a surprise after he did a good job listening. But our goal is not bribery, it is to have children who are secure, sincere and learning new things every day. For our family, positive reinforcement is working to achieve these things.

Do you use a rewards system when teaching your kids?

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by KidPointz. All opinions are completely my own and really did work for our family. Thanks for reading!