What is positive reinforcement?
We all like to hear good feedback like “Well done!” and “Fantastic!” when we’ve done the right thing or done something well. Kids are no different. In fact, they thrive in safe, supportive and positive learning environments that encourage them to grow, explore and try new things.
One of the ways you can provide little miss or mister with a positive learning environment is through positive reinforcement – by highlighting what they’re doing right rather than focusing on what they’re doing wrong. It also means encouraging junior when they’re trying and doing their best, rather than only when they achieve the ‘intended’ result.
The idea behind positive reinforcement is that by offering words of encouragement, being enthusiastic or giving rewards (such as something they enjoy) you’ll reinforce the ideal behaviour and increase the chance that they’ll repeat this behaviour. Positive learning environments can be established anywhere that you and your child are – at home, in the car, on a walk, at the shops.
Positive reinforcement also works best when it’s specific. For example, rather than telling your youngster that they have to be a good boy or girl, let them know how proud you are that they shared their toy with their friend or that you’re pleased they put their shoes on to go outside without being asked.
Examples of positive reinforcement
Some of the ways you can show your little one encouragement through positive reinforcement include:
- Giving them a high five (or a high ten!)
- Giving them a hug or pat on the back
- Offering praise on a specific situation or task (e.g. “Thanks for tidying away your toys” or “That’s a great way to hold the pencil”)
- Giving a thumbs-up
- Clapping and cheering
- Having reward charts
Positive reinforcement through reward charts
Reward charts work really well because they’re visible and show your whippersnapper their progress. They also have the added bonus of bolstering the verbal praise you’re giving.
Reward charts can be as simple as drawing a number of shapes or objects to fill. For example, you can draw five monster feet on an A4 piece of paper and call it a 'monster chart' where the feet get a stamp when your tot does the thing you want to positively reinforce.
You can also positively reinforce specific skills such as ‘good listening’, ‘good turn taking’ and ‘good trying’ or achievements such as writing the letter ‘p’ correctly and using a knife and fork.
Plus, it’s a great idea to put them on the fridge or bedroom door – somewhere that little miss or mister will notice it.
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Combining several foundation skills, our PlayBiz Play-a-Long videos run for 10 minutes or so. We’ve carefully ordered the activities so they enable your youngster to have an optimal learning experience and develop the skills they’ll need for school by joining in the ‘teachable moments’. Picture a fun and educational TV program like PlaySchool crossed with an occupational therapy session that’s chock full of strategies. Ready, steady, learn! Please note: The Play-a-Long videos don’t need to be viewed in any particular order.