Positive Basics

Positive reinforcement is a form of conditioning in which one implements the addition of a reward stimulus following a given behavior-hence “positive”. Practically, the implementation is intended to elicit a result that makes the behavior more likely to occur again in the future. In regards to the basics of good parenting, it is essential to employ more constructive and effective methods for guiding children’s behavior. As a general guideline of good parenting, a tried and trusted rule of thumb takes the form of an easy to remember acronym “ABC”-Always Be Consistent. When coupled with positive reinforcement, children’s behavior can be modified before a given act takes place through the consistent encouragement and praise of good behavior, a positive form of conditioning.

Be Consistent

When it comes to dealing with children’s behavior the younger the child the more difficult it is for them to cope with inconsistent rules regarding their behavior. For example, a child will have difficulty adhering to a normative maxim such as “always tell the truth” when there are exceptional scenarios that warrant a child to tell a lie for, say, safety reasons such as when encountering strangers. Moreover, if a child has older siblings who have more freedoms, it can provoke anxiety or cause feelings of resentment if there are two competing standards of behavior within the household. Therefore, to effectively condition and positively reinforce good behavior, rules must be straightforward and consistently apply across the board. When parenting, consistency is a virtue and it is essential that a parent reduce exceptions to the rule regarding their own behavior and their children’s behavior in the household. This will prevent stressful feelings for both parents and children in the healthy development of their child.

Mother putting daughter into bed.

Exercise Patience

When parenting, patience is also a highly regarded virtue and should be exercised continuously. Children are usually born with an innate desire to please their caregivers. In light of this, one should practice telling their children exactly what to do rather than what not to do. This positive approach displays to children that parents can trust their decisions to do what they are told rather than leaving them feeling like their parents do not have confidence in them.

Staying positive throughout the guidance process will quell negative feelings and allow the child to truly reap the rewards of behaving in a good way rather than the contrary. Here the practice of imposing limits on children’s behavior provides a buffer by which children can act according to desirable behaviors within a controlled sphere of parental influence. By allowing children to have some freedom in the adherence to a rule permits a healthy conditioning which can be positively enforced through unconditional love. Consequently the child will be more willing to comply.

Blocks that spell out thw word 'love'.

Use Positive Reinforcement

For many parents it is easy to dismiss or overlook a child’s desirable behavior simply because it is causing no immediate problem. In many play scenarios, children can display good behavior which takes a potentially stressful situation in the opposite direction, avoiding a lot of fuss and angered feelings. For parents, the natural response tends to be dismissive as there is no requirement to expel effort on a situation that does not require immediate corrective action. However, to remain consistent and effective parents should be continuously aware of and pro-active in noticing good behavior so to reinforce it with positive words and guidance. For instance, when a child chooses to take off their muddy shoes before entering the house a parent positively reinforcing the behavior should take notice and make an effort to encourage the behavior like saying “I am glad to see that you took off your shoes before entering our house Timmy, good job!” Here the child receives instant gratification for exercising desirable behavior and the parent, having already been satisfied, will be confident that the child’s desirable actions will continue into the future.