Positive Reinforcement

“You did a really great job!” Who doesn’t just love hearing those words? Human beings respond positively to encouragement. When someone commends you for a job well done, or recognizes your value as an employee, you generally keep doing whatever you did that earned such approval.

Children particularly thrive on praise. We can encourage children to cultivate positive behavior and attitudes by acknowledging and complimenting their efforts. Psychologists call this “positive reinforcement”.

Positive reinforcement is effective even when a child is doing poorly. Often that is when it is needed most. Success usually arrives in “baby steps”, so you can commend any step of progress towards the goal. Look for the positive. If he plays a game, don’t just compliment him when he is the winner; compliment a child on his good sportsmanship if he takes losing graciously. Talk about how proud you are that he plays fairly. Encourage him for playing by the rules and doing his best, even if he doesn’t win.

Praise him for any small improvement that you wish him to repeat. Notice when he endures difficult medical tests without much fuss or complaint. Tell him how brave he is. Notice when he greets a nurse cheerfully. Tell him how much his kindness means to others. Such positive reinforcement makes a child want to keep trying his best, and builds confidence.

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