Search This Blog

Friday, March 18, 2011

Positive Reinforcement (By Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

                Positive reinforcement is another important concept in effective discipline.  So, what exactly is it?  It is when you recognize your child’s positive behaviors and encourage them through reinforcement.  By doing this, your child will more likely increase the positive behaviors and reduce the negative ones.  Contrary to what some may believe, focusing on the negative behaviors does not increase positive behaviors. Positive reinforcement strategies can be such as giving praise, hugs and kisses, high fives, stickers, special notes, etc.  This is where your creativity comes into play.
Many believe this is the same as a bribe.  I’ve heard too many times parents say: “You mean I have to bribe my child to do what they are supposed to anyways?”  Here’s the difference between a bribe and positive reinforcement.  A bribe is given before a wanted behavior occurs whereas positive reinforcement is given after a behavior has occurred.  Positive reinforcement has another added bonus!
Positive reinforcement that is given on a regular basis makes children feel good about themselves and over time,  increases their self-esteem.  Higher self-esteem yields higher confidence. The more confident you are, the more likely you are to be socially well-adjusted, comfortable taking appropriate risks, happier, and successful.  Isn’t that what we all want for our kids?

        Here is an example to drive the message home, which one do you think will give you better results?

 Positive: Sue, you worked so hard on your Math homework. I’m so proud of you!
Negative:  Sue, what’s taking you so long to do your Math homework?  Don’t you pay attention in class?!

Remember: Catch them being good!!!


  1. Bhauju,

    This "positive reinforcement" thing is so basic, but somehow we seldom think about it (unintentionally of course) and regularly end up with negative reinforcement. Your write-up sure is an eye-opener for me. And yes, now on, I will always remember to "Catch my kid being good" :)Thanks a lot for sharing this.

  2. So true, it's the obvious ones we tend to forget especially when we need it the most! Thanks, you just gave me another topic to focus on: positive versus negative reinforcement!