One of the best ways of encouraging your child to show positive behaviour, is through positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is easy to implement if you begin this type of dicipline with your child from birth. Promoting this type of disipline from birth may seem a little far-fetched, but just because your baby can't speak, doesn't mean he can't hear. However, if you decide to begin positive reinforcement when he is a toddler, you may find it hard to get started. This is simply because he isn't used to it. It will take time for him to learn and understand these new boundaries you have set, what behaviour exceeds that boundary and what behaviour keeps him firmly inside it.
How to Begin
The most important thing to remember when using this type of dicipline is, you are the child's role model. You are the person he looks to, to understand how to interact with others. If you react to your child or another person in a negative way, your child will then believe that type of negative behaviour is accepted in a social environment. As a result, he will then display that behaviour as well. This is because, in a childs mind, adults are 'grown-ups' and everything they say and do is socially acceptable.
This is where problems can begin. When your child is learning how to interct with others, he has no real concept of positive or negative behaviour. So he will use adults to help him understand what it socially acceptable. Which means, when your child displays this negative behaviour, your natural reaction is to give him a sanction, leaving your child confused. The use of negative behaviour cannot be acceptable for you and forbidden for your child.
Giving yourself rules to follow, while teaching your child the rules you have given him, will help both of you promote each others positive behaviour.
Positive Reinforcement System
There are a number of ways to utilise positivie reinforcement within the home:-
Positive Incentives - Everytime he displays positive behaviour or interacts positivly with you or others, give him positive encouragement in response. Make sure he has your full attention when he does this, because your positive response will encourage him to repeat this positive behaviour.
A list of rules - Decide on a list of rules that everyone in the house must obey, then write them on a large piece of card. This list must be displayed on the wall, in a place where everyone can see it. Add pictures to the list, if they will help. You can also write the list with your child, if they are old enough.
A Reward Chart - This chart must be based on the behaviour you want your child to show. Once he has completed a task on the chart, mark the chart and give him positive encouragement for each task he completes.
A Token Jar - This will be a great visual aid for your child, as they will see how well they are doing and it will encourage them to continue doing well. The only way your child can earn a token is by completing every task on their reward chart during the day. At the end of each day, when all the tasks are completed, give your child a token to place in the jar. Once your child manages to gain seven tokens by the end of the week, he will get a reward. If he does not, then it starts again the next week and encourage him to do better.
The Reward - This can be whatever your believe is an acceptable reward for your child or it may be something you and your child have decided together. But it can be somethig as simple as watching televison, playing a video game, watching a film, buying a toy or game, going to the cinema, etc.
Negative Reinforcement System
There are a number of ways to deal with any negative behaviour he shows. It is important to remember that this is done to help your child understand the appropriate boundaries and NOT to be used in spite. Once he has been given the dicipline you deemed appropriate for his behaviour, it must be forgotten just as quickly. That way, your child can be given the chance to redeem himself.
The Warning - On the first occasion your child shows negative beahviour, get down to your childs eye level and tell them what it is they have done wrong and that it was unacceptable behaviour. Then tell them what will happen if they repeat this negative behaviour. This can be having the toy they were playing with taken away or being given a reflective sanction.
Removing a toy - If the warning didn't work, get down to your childs eye level again and tell them that you gave him a warning and he ignored it. Now you will carry out that warning and take the toy away. Hold your hand out and tell your child he has five seconds to hand the toy over or you will take it. In the event you have to take the toy, remind the child of what behaviour was unacceptable and a reflective sanction will be given if this behaviour continues.
Reflective Sanction - Find an area inside the house when your child is able to sit comfortably, with no distractions and reflect on their behaviour. Get down to your childs eye level again and tell him what he has done wrong and will be given a reflective sanction. Without any visual contact, take your child to their reflective spot and place them on it. Tell them what they must do and how long they have to do it, then walk away. If he comes off before his time has elasped, just pick him up, place him back on the spot and tell him his time begins again. Once his reflective sanction is complete, tell him why he was given the sanction and encourage him to apologise for his actions. Once he has, shake hands and make friends again.
The most common things to use is a chair, a step, a pillow or spot. Whatever you decide to use, it must not demeaner your child or affect their self-esteem in any way.
In time, your child will begin to prefer having a positive reaction from you, rather than a negative. That doesn't mean your child will never be naughty again, because that is simply impossible. Positive reinforcement is one of the best ways for your child to understand the mistakes he has made and learn not to make them again. In a sense, you will become your childs guide and what you do now, will prepare for adulthood.