A Little Positivity With Our Kids Goes A Long Way!


In my previous blog I discussed the importance of positive feedback at work. However, all humans crave positive feedback and reinforcement, most of all, our children. 

 All kids go through phases. Many of them are really difficult. Our children start acting out, screaming, crying, hitting, throwing or possibly other negative actions that make us want to pull our hair out. Our go to is to punish them. We went through a bad phase with my son when he was four. He did not listen and we were always putting him in timeout. We realized this was not working, as he was upset when he was in timeout, but shortly after, he starting acting out again. What we were doing was not sticking, and it was creating a very negative situation. We decided to flip the script and try positive reinforcement instead. We got two jars and labeled them listening and not listening. We filled the not listening one with marbles. Every time he would listen with one request,  he would move a marble to the listening” jar. When he didn’t listen or we had to repeat our request more than once, he had to move a marble back. He knew when he filled the “listening” jar he would get to pick out a toy or go someplace special. This was the incentive he needed to start changing his behavior. Now that he is six, we use a star chart instead. On the chart are all of the behaviors that we want to see and feel will bring about positive reinforcement for his age.  (Feed dog, brush teeth, be kind, don’t lie etc.).  

The marble jars were great when my son was four. They really helped to reinforce right from wrong and consequences of his actions. At six, we needed something more advanced that addressed specific behaviors that we expect of him. So far this is working very well, like the marbles did.  

If our first response when our kids act out is to yell at them and point out everything they do wrong, they will grow up thinking they can’t do things right and are bad, and not making the right choices for good behavior . Even though we may be so frustrated with repetitive bad behavior, we need to model the way we want them to act and make sure we are telling them about the many good things they do, instead of all of the bad.  Try to put yourself in their place and see how you would want to be treated.  

Marble jars and star charts may not work for everyone. But it is important to see what does work. This is very much trial and error and we certainly will not always get it right. Just remember, that positive feedback and reinforcement is just as important and impactful as negative reinforcement and correction. We want our kids to grow up with good self esteem and feeling like they are loved, supported and can conquer the world, while at the same time knowing the value of staying away from the things that are wrong and have negative consequences.