karenita1's picture

Positive Reinforcement

Hi everyone,

I'm new to this board but I'm really looking for ways to guide my child's behavior by positive reinforcement. My daughter is seven years old now. She is very sensitive to us and very, very hard on herself when she does something wrong.  I generally punish by time out, loss of privileges or by allowing the natural consequences of her actions then talking it through. But sometimes it is very difficult to be patient and tell her things over and over and so she gets the occasional swat or verbal equivalent of a swat.  I am concerned for two reasons,

1. It seems that I talk to her over and over but she's beginning to respond only when she is punished. Since I'm trying to teach her to do right because it is right that's not working for me.

I am beginning to see that she doesn't not feel safe coming to us when she does something wrong because she knows we will be upset, so she's been trying to hide when she misbehaves. I really don't want punishment to close our lines of communication.

So I'm trying to figure out what else to do. I really feel that what happens in our relationship now sets the tone for when she is a teen and adult and I want to figure this out before that time comes. All suggestions and references are welcome.

junieg's picture

You could have a family meeting to discuss this. Maybe you could set some guidelines together about what is acceptable or not acceptable behaviour. It is important to keep the lines of communication open. We have always done this and my son will tell me a lot of things that other teenagers might not tell their parents. This is due to the fact that we discuss these things in a calm adult atmosphere and try not to judge him harshly. We have been treating him as an adult for many years and he has responded to the trust and respect.
We used to ask my son what punishment he thought would be suitable when he did something wrong. My son sometimes came up with a punishment more severe than we would have given him.
I think it is very important to remember what it is like to be their age and try to have plans in place when certain situations arise. Above all, keep calm. Think before you talk. Words can't be taken back once said.

concerned mom's picture
concerned mom

I think discipline plays a big role in a child's self esteem. I also agree that if administered poorly, it can instill fear in some children (i.e.-- they may feel scared to admit to their parents what they did wrong). Kids need boundries and structure to feel safe. This means they shldn't be left to make their own choices, especially at a young age. However, they can be given choices so that they feel important too. I think positive reinforcement is great! If you can focus more on the good behavior, and less on the bad that would be best, especially since you said your child is very sensitive. We also have learned to nip things in the bud. If we want our children to do something, we only ask them twice. We usually offer an incentive first (like ice cream) to encourage them. (My kids are 4 and 3.) If they don't respond, they either get a time-out or lose a privilege. It all depends on the situation. You have to pick your battles and try not to nitpick about the little things. Believe me when I say that this makes for a much calmer and relaxing environment. Good luck!

2xstepmom's picture

Talk, and more talk! Conversation and communication are the key! The most important thing is to teach your children to behave because it is the right thing to do, not because of a punishment or negative consequence. Start again with your child, tell her clean slate and from now on open discussion and and no more swats! You will be amazed how things will improve! Good luck!!!!!!

junieg's picture

Where I work we use a 3:1 rule. For every negative comment we have to make to a child [which we try not to do too often] we make three positive ones.

rinasings2u's picture

I love the 3:1 rule. It works so well and really does impact children. I use it as well.