Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Positive strokes for positive folks

A counselor friend of mine mentioned that children need ten positive comments to every command. Not just every negative comment, but every command. Like those things parents say a hundred times a day: "Get your clothes on," "Brush your teeth," and "Eat your broccoli." I can't say I live up to the 10 to 1 ratio, but knowing this has made me much more conscious of looking for opportunities to praise my boys more frequently throughout the day. I'm saying things like: "Good job sharing your toys." "That was so nice of you to help your brother get his shoes on." "I really appreciate you clearing your dishes off the table." "You two are playing so nicely together." "You did a great job using your inside voice and not touching things in the store."

Since I've been doing that, I've seen my kids behave better, particularly my independent-minded 4-year-old. I'm even enjoying a side-benefit I didn't expect.

Yesterday I had to brake quickly to avoid running a red light. I had just set my water bottle down, so it was perched somewhat precariously in the cup holder. The items in the passenger seat went flying to the floor, but my water bottle wavered and stayed upright. Owen said, "Good job in not spilling your water." Then at the next light, when I stepped on the brakes much more slowly and smoothly, he said, "Good job stopping, Mom."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Impressive! In my role as guide/teacher for those who really struggle with life (not just parenting) positive reinforcement is the thing I stress the most often. Research shows that using positive reinforcement is THE way to shape behavior for the long haul, even when no one is looking. Works way more effectively than any form of negative consequence/punishment. It's hard when working with adults for them to change the language inside their own heads toward more positive voices, but when it happens, the transformation is amazing. Good for you for doing this with your boys!!!

I know you really wanted that whole little lecture above [wink], but I couldn't help myself - it's one of the things I'm most excited about re: changing the world in small ways.

Hugs to you, my friend -