Time and again parents and teachers are reminded that the right way to modify the behaviour of children is to reward and reinforce them for the right behaviours. Punishing them for mischief can make them rebellious and even increase such behaviours if they start looking at punishments as the attention they want. It is important to reinforce your children the right way and for the right things. Here is a little guide on how to use positive reinforcements for your child.
Many teachers in the preschools and kindergartens have also used a careful reward system to motivate the children to cultivate certain good habits, to see how one preschool does it, you can look at
•Have a reward system : The purpose of reinforcement is to encourage desired behaviours in our child. Randomly appreciating and rewarding certain behaviour would lead to an imbalance in the child. They sometimes may not even understand what they are being rewarded for. Have a system for presenting rewards to your child, where rewards grow progressively with actions. Preschool Singapore have a similar reward system for classroom behaviours.You can also have a point system (with stars or stickers ) with different number of points allocated to different behaviours , where the child can then get a final reward after earning a certain number of points. A simple chart paper or board on the wall is all you need to get this done. It also gets the child excited; they also learn that they need to ‘earn’ rewards.
•Keep it non-materialistic: Try to keep your rewards as non-materialistic as possible. It is not the reward itself that reinforces the behaviour, but the way ‘anything’ is presented as a reward to a child. Little pats on back , acknowledging and appreciating behaviour, giving them extra playtime , letting them watch their favourite show on TV , a visit to zoo or circus are a few of the many non-materialistic rewards you can give to your child. Reward does not necessarily involve ‘giving’ something they like, instead you can take away something they don’t like, such as early bed time for a day.
•Intrinsic motivation: Keep the intrinsic motivation alive. Do not reward children for actions that should otherwise naturally carry a certain degree of satisfaction. Behaviours like finishing a book, exercising, taking care of pets should not be rewarded. Rewarding them would remove the intrinsic motivation out of it, where eventually the child may refuse to do it without the reward.
•Bring in productive rewards : For the bigger or final rewards, that a child earns after collecting their points, bring in more productive ideas. Reward them with story books, art and craft supplies, workshops or visits to museums.
•Behaviour narration: One of the simplest things that works miracles for children is behaviour narration. Just narrating what the child is doing gets them to reflect on their actions and choose if the behaviour is good or bad. If your child is, say, troubling someone, narrate aloud , ‘ John is being rude to his friend’. On the contrary, if they are being nice, call it out and say, ‘ John is being very kind and polite and it makes mom very happy.’ This is one of the best techniques as children themselves realize why certain behaviour are good or bad
•Be careful of what you reinforce : A lot of times we reinforce unwanted behaviours without even realizing. If you praise a child for eating a vegetable after being extremely fussy , you are actually reinforcing being fussy. Instead just reinforce the steps they take towards the right actions. Praise them for trying to eat the vegetable, or getting up to go to brush instead.
Raising a child is a science and an art. It is important to know what is right and have the ability to know what suits your child. Using reinforcement the right way can work in miraculous ways and help our children to grow into kind and hardworking adults.