Most of us grew up in a time when the primary means of reinforcement was punishment-based. As we now know, this can and does have long-lasting repercussions.
Today we’re going to explore some positive reinforcement techniques you can add to your toolbox.
These techniques for toddlers are based on patient repetition, encouragement, and healthy rewards. You and your child will love the results.
It’s positive reinforcement for toddlers 101!
Let’s look at a little positive reinforcement that can get the job done the right way!
4 Ways You Can Use Positive Reinforcement For Toddlers
Time-outs are a popular means of discipline these days – sometimes a little too popular! Like most things in life, You should observe moderation. Too many time-outs can lead to your child acting out for attention or even developing a bit of resentment.
You can even come to rely on them too much and find that you are using them for the wrong reasons.
That’s why it’s a good idea to introduce ‘interactive time-outs’ as a positive reinforcement method.
During these periods, you can watch something educational together. You could also read to your child.
Using positive reinforcement can also be fun, right?
Please don’t use this time to discuss what they did wrong as you don’t want them to be defensive. Save any references to that for the end of the time-out.
Remember, the goal of a time-out is to calm your child down. Also, to get them thinking rationally instead of acting out.
Keeping things interesting can help to avoid your child becoming resentful. It will also ensure time-outs remain an effective approach to teaching self-discipline.
Praise the good, explain the bad Praise the good, explain the bad
For a long, long time, we’ve believed that you should praise the good and punish the bad. Modern parenting techniques seem to say that we can do more with a modified approach.
We’re keeping the praise. This is proven to boost confidence and help build positive associations with the desired behavior. When it comes to ‘punishing the bad,’ explaining to your child what they have done wrong can get you a lot more mileage.
When your child does something kind, like sharing a toy, or cleaning their room, then praise them. When they do something wrong, sit your child and explain what they have done wrong.
Try this before going to time-outs, and keep your patience close. Everything is still new to toddlers, and they don’t really understand ‘the rules’ yet.
Punishment can make things harder to understand, but toddlers understand a friendly tone.
So nudge them in the right direction and explain to them when they are doing something wrong. Over time, it will sink in, and lessons learned soon become habits that can last a lifetime.
Reminders are better than demands.
Sometimes it can be frustrating for you and your child when they need constant reminders.
‘Stop running around the room.’
For instance, or:
‘Your toys belong in your room’ are two examples of things that you can find yourself repeating all day.
You’ll be happy to know that there is something else that you can do.
Brief reminders can get the job done without making your child go on the defensive. Simply enunciating ‘walk’ quite clearly can remind your child to slow down.
Asking ‘toys go where?’ works well, too, with a little practice.
We’re also going to counsel that you don’t overuse this. ‘Selective ignoring’ is the practice of letting some things go. It serves an important purpose.
Some children are prone to acting out to get your attention. Picking and choosing when you will give them reminders or ignore an issue can teach them that negative behavior won’t always get them attention.
Finally, it helps create a more peaceful environment. Both you and your child will be less stressed if you aren’t spending your time giving them reminders or demands.
So, nudge them in the right direction and let them figure it out on their own sometimes.
They’ll learn, and the resulting atmosphere will be great for everyone.
Stickers and privileges
Sometimes you can get really frustrated with your toddler’s behavior. The temptation to ‘bribe’ them with toys can be hard to resist.
Rather than getting them something new, you should consider rewarding them with extra time with things that they already have.
Get a calendar and some stickers, and you’ve got a great tool for enforcing desirable behaviors. You’ll want to decide a specific behavior that you are trying to enforce and stick to that one.
You can then expand this, but it’s important to keep things simple so that your child doesn’t get frustrated or confused.
An easy method is to make up some ‘coupons’ that offer extended privileges or simple rewards. These can be rewards such as ’15 minutes of extra coloring’, ‘a trip to the local park,’ or even ‘have your favorite dinner.’
We are trying to teach young Joe to put away his coloring books when coloring time is over. This time, Joe puts the books away… you offer praise and put a sticker on the calendar in front of him.
After he reaches 7 stickers, you tell him he gets to pull a ‘reward coupon’ that he can use whenever he likes.
You are reinforcing a specific behavior to the point that it is becoming a habit. Then, you can try this with another behavior and eventually more than one.
Give it a try and see for yourself because this one really works!
As you can see, there’s always a way to reinforce the lessons that you are trying to teach. All without resorting to negative methods. Using positive reinforcement works too!
Keep in mind that your toddler still doesn’t have a full understanding of the rules yet. With a lot of patience and some gentle nudging in the right direction, you’ll be seeing great results in no time!
Positive reinforcement is a key part of positive discipline and positive parenting. Take what you have learned from this post and apply it!