No, not a drill–POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT!

My alternative title is:

YOU CATCH MORE FLIES WITH HONEY THAN YOU DO WITH VINEGAR PART I

We all possess an incredibly powerful, free tool; praise.  If we think of the definition of positive reinforcement in its technical sense; something added that increases the future frequency of a desired behavior. We always have the ability to praise someone readily available.

Here is a scenario…One odd day your child takes the initiative to clean their own room (I didn’t say this wasn’t fictitious).  You love having their room clean. You’d like to have their room clean in the future.  You respond by a) doing nothing b) telling them what an amazing job they did  c) making them clean the living room too d) buying them a new toy or e) telling them they don’t have to do their dishes after dinner tonight. Wow, there are many choices that might promote them cleaning their room in the future, but we must use caution in what we are setting ourselves (and our child) up for.

Is it realistic that every time your child cleans their room  in the future you buy them a new toy?  How will they react if one day they clean their room and you don’t excuse them from the dinner dishes? Or even better, what is their motivation to clean their room in the future if they aren’t acknowledged or aggg… have to do even more work by cleaning the living room? It would be lovely if the child just felt an intrinsic sense of pride and accomplishment and regularly cleaned their room to experience that feeling (yes, this could be considered a goal across many behaviors, settings and individuals, but we aren’t perfect). This is where your power tool comes in.  Think about a time you made a delicious meal and everyone raved about it. Did you save that recipe and make it again?  Or what about the feeling you got when your professor singled you out to comment on your exceptional work?  Did you slack off or did you work even harder to maintain that standard?  Praise is highly under-rate and often more powerful than you can imagine.  Try to praise someone today and see what happens.

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