Positive Reinforcement: Examples and Cautions

If you’ve followed me for any period of time, you know how strongly we believe in holding youngsters accountable for their mistakes and misdeeds.

As most of us have learned the hard way, the road to wisdom and responsibility is paved with plenty of small mistakes and their consequences.

As we go about shaping the hearts and minds of our children, it’s important to remember that this road is also paved with positives. While it’s unrealistic…and not too healthy…to reward our kids every time they do something good, we’re wise to remember the value of reinforcing good behavior and good deeds.

The healthiest and most powerful types of reinforcement involve time and attention rather than stuff.

Examples include:
•  Sitting on the floor with your toddler as you allow them to repeatedly destroy your tower of blocks
•  Noticing something your teen has done well and patting them on the back
•  Saying to your child, “It looks like you really worked hard on that. I bet you’re proud of yourself.”
•  Playing catch
•  Doing a puzzle together

As we provide reinforcement, it’s wise to remember the following:

•  Reinforcement is more powerful when it comes as a surprise to our kids.
•  Reinforcement loses its power when our youngsters come to expect it.
•  Rewards should not be given every time our kids do something good.
•  When our kids beg for or demand rewards, they shouldn’t get them.
•  Avoid saying, “You are so smart.” Focus on your child’s hard work and perseverance.
•  Your love should never be used as a reward or a consequence. Your children should have it all of the time.

The most successful parents always remember that it’s their job to give their kids the most accurate taste of the real world as possible. This means that we help them understand that much of the time hard work and good deeds provide positive results. It also means helping them understand that we do these good things because they’re the right thing to do…rather than because we expect rewards for doing them.


Most Popular

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.
On Key

Related Posts

Mom holding toddler during a tantrum

What Vexes Parents

A friend and talk show host asked me this week what 5 issues vex most parents. That’s a pretty big question! I’m going to share

Mom with kids walking in the woods

Self-care, self-love, and the art of parenting.

Chances are you have found that parenting stretches you in ways you didn’t see coming. I’m betting that you want your children to feel absolutely loved, cherished, and adored by you, down to their core.

Let's Get Together

Please request a free Discovery Call with one of us.

Kerry Stutzman MSW, LMFT

My passion is helping my clients develop close, connected families and healthy relationships. For the past 20 years I have been helping people discover the best version of themselves.  Learn more

Brett King LPCC NCC, MFT

My specialty is couples therapy with parents. I also have expertise in parenting, betrayal recovery, and addiction.  Learn more

Debbie Bassett MA, LPCC, MFTC

My focus includes trauma, attachment, anxiety, depression, and relational work; including a focus on children and teens, parents, and couples.  Learn more

Amy Cobb - Parent Coach

Amy Cobb MS Family/Human Development

I specialize in working with parents and caregivers with children from cradle to college, with special focus from birth – 10 years old. Learn more

Session Request with Debbie

I look forward to meeting with you.

Discovery Call Request with Kerry

My practice is quite full, however I am accepting new clients if I feel there is a good fit and I can be helpful.  Please share what brings you to seek therapy at this time.

I look forward to discovering if we are a good fit.

Discovery Call Request with Debbie

I look forward to discovering if we are a good fit.

Discovery Call Request with Brett

I look forward to discovering if we are a good fit.

Welcome Back

If you are an established client, please click on your therapist/parent coach to access their online booking portal.