Rewarding Good Behavior
As I have said before, it is important to "look for" good behavior in our children to reward.
The rewards that I refer to are very natural ones that we have all enjoyed while growing up, and even now.
Descriptive praise is one example. Descriptive praise includes an enthusiastic description of the good behavior you see and a brief statement about why the behavior is good to do. The following are some examples:
* You picked up after yourself! It's so nice of you to help us keep our house clean.
* You helped your brother! That's a good way to show your love for him.
* You are going to bed so well. That helps you to grow strong and be healthy.
* Good, you are holding my hand when we cross the street. Keep watching for cars so we can stay safe.
* I like the way you are brushing your teeth. That keeps them nice and white and healthy.
* Look at you eat your vegetables, good for you! They help you grow big and strong and smart.
* Thanks for doing what I asked you to do! You are really a good helper and I'm proud of you.
The idea is to label the behaviors your child does as good, kind, happy, helpful, caring, unselfish, brave, cooperative, courteous, respectful, gentle, loving, sweet, etc., and then tell them why you appreciate what they did.
The best way to reduce bad behavior is to reward good behavior. Yes, this approach takes vigilance and energy, but in the long-run it really works the best.
Think of it this way: The more good behaviors your child does, the less time they have to do bad behaviors. Remember, its hard to do a good behavior and a bad behavior at the same time.
When you use rewards skillfully, you help your child's good behaviors win the contest!
Dr. Tom 12/15/09
P.S. Descriptive praise works well with adults too!