Friday, March 4, 2011

Positive Reinforcement

Okay y'all-- I am looking for some advice and creative ideas. We are big believers in positive reinforcement (if you read this blog or know us you also know we are big believers in discipline); I feel like reinforcing positive habits or behavior really help build up a child's self-esteem and also encourage them to continue making good choices. I believe things like going on the potty; saying yes m'am without being prompted, sharing, obeying the first time, etc. sometimes deserve something that says "that is awesome" or "I am SO proud of you!" I know words make a huge impact so if Caden makes a good choice I do use phrases and excitement to let him know that that is great and I am proud. But, sometimes I want to do a little more; or offer a little extra. However; I do not want to offer food as a reward (you will get a _____ if you do _____) because I do not want our focus to be on sweets; and I also (very rarely) want to offer a new toy. Here is an example of something that is kinda crazy but worked.

We are potty trained(ing) and I told Caden when you poop on the potty you may have a cupcake (what a hypocrite! I know I just said no food:)
Well, he went and when I went to make good on my promise he asked if I would put a candle on it....lightbulb--what if he was just excited to get to blow out the birthday candle and he actually forgets about that cupcake?! Well, go figure it worked! So blowing out the candle was something he thought was cool and motivated him a little more to go on the potty!

Other ideas: stickers; one mom told me she used a dry erase more and when she wanted to do something the kids thought it was cool to write on the board....I really want to hear some of you ideas!

What do you offer your kiddos to make them feel a little extra special?


  1. katie you are already potty training?! i guess he is 2,,,crazy! i think it's ok to use food for potty--that is just so different! i made charts and would give so many checks/stickers and after so many times of going on the potty they would get a "treat"--whatever you want it to be. after they were going on a more consistent basis that is--at first i think when we were just starting i gave reed an M&M every time he'd pee--just to motivate the peeing. I did try this "potty training in 3 days" technique with EC---it worked to some degree--but I still think you are "working" a little beyond the 3 days---it still was a couple weeks before she really "got it" all the way. hope caden does well with it!

  2. OH my goodness - I just typed the longest comment and it didn't publish for some reason... so I'll try to do it over. First of all, great great great post! Love this!

    We use a marble jar at our house. BOys get marbles for only two things - first time obedience and good sleeping nights. Once their marbles reach their names, they get a very special treat like a trip to the zoo or All About Kids or Gatti Land. Big ticket items. It takes about 6 weeks for us to fill up our jars - that may be too long, but for a big treat/reward, I want them to work hard!

    Here's a couple of other ideas. Create a correction AND reward wheel that they can spin. Or if that's too complex, use a paper bag and put several corrections in it. This is helpful for parents - so we don't always have to think on our feet to come up with the perfect correction. I also recommend putting a blank or free space correction slip in the bag - a great teachable moment regarding grace and mercy and how undeserving we are of God's forgiveness. As for the rewards, they can range from an "atta boy" to a high five to a small treat to bigger things like a happy meal or a trip to the park.

    We have done sticker charts in the past - a certain number of stickers = some specified reward.

    I'm not ashamed to admit that we've also used M&Ms for potty training. Ww traded healthy teach for no diapers. :-)

    We also reward desired behaviors with "family movie and popcorn night." The boys think red box is the bomb diggity.

    Last piece of advice - when using a correction or reinforcement, it's important to focus on one or two behaviors - the ones that you really want to see either increase or decrease.

    You are an unbelievable mommy and your boys are so blessed! And I'm blesed to be able to learn from you! LOVE YOU MUCH!!!!

  3. When you get him potty trained, can he come over and teach Mark? :)

    I have heard your suppose to be very specific on your praise because kids catch on. Do not just say, "Good Job". More like, "I like how you used good manners", etc.

    I'm sure your doing a great job!

  4. You know what's been a big hit for us is temporary tattoos! He loves them! Stickers are good too. Unfortunately we use food quite a bit too. I LOVE the candle thing! It's so awesome that something so simple and cheap is such a great reward! You are such a great Mom! P.S. I keep forgetting to tell you, I LOVE the blog background! So pretty!