Clever Ways to Positively Reinforce Your Child without Discipline
- 12) CHALLENGE LADDER: Draw a ladder of challenges on a large sheet of paper and stick it on a wall. On each rung write down different gradients of a challenge. For example, if the ultimate goal is to read a difficult book, you might start with "reading two pages aloud with mommy." Then proceed to "reading two pages alone." Then proceed to "reading ten pages alone," and so on. This allows children to feel accomplished even when they aren’t able to complete the big task at hand. It also teaches them that every big task can be broken down into smaller, more-achievable pieces. It's helpful for parents to have a similar chart in their room with a goal they are working on.
- 13) WHAT RISK DID I TAKE TODAY? Have a conversation around the table about the importance of taking risks and, more importantly, the importance of making mistakes. Teach your children that if they don’t become comfortable with making mistakes, they will never take on new challenges. This exercise acts as a reinforcer for learning new behavior and challenging oneself. Have each family member go around the table and share the biggest faux pas of the day. It could be not exercising, messing up a piano practice, or being forgetful of someone's birthday. The bigger the mess up, the louder the applause. This teaches children to feel unashamed of their mistakes, and to own them without fear of reprimand or disapproval. Means by which we can approve can also be discussed.
- 14) DATE WITH MOMMY OR DADDY: This is a popular reinforcer. When the child has accomplished their goals, they get to choose a special activity with mommy or daddy, spending time alone with them. This serves the purpose of reinforcing their behavior, as well as strengthening the parent-child connection.
- 15) LOVE NOTES: Leave notes for your child in their lunch box or in random places such as their pencil case, on their bathroom mirror, or in their shoes. Be specific about exactly what you are proud of and why. The more specific you are, the more meaningful the reinforcer will be. It's better to focus on process- oriented behaviors rather than outcome-oriented ones. For example, it's better to say, "I'm really proud that you spent ten extra minutes practicing that difficult piece on the cello. I saw how tired you were, but you still went the extra mile. That is pretty awesome of you."