Teaching a toddler oftentimes gets tedious and stressful. But with the right techniques, it can become simple. When teaching a child the right behavior, try parenting with positive reinforcement. Reinforcement is when you connect a stimulus to a behavior so that this behavior will most likely happen again. It’s a simple concept, but it’s proven to be effective in teaching toddlers the right behavior.
Positive reinforcement, which is connecting positive stimulus or a reward to a correct behavior, helps makes learning easier and enjoyable for toddlers. Parenting with positive reinforcement also gives the child more positive experiences and a happier childhood overall.
Below are 5 things to remember about parenting with positive reinforcement to help you with your toddler.
Don’t be limited to giving your child a material prize for reinforcement. If your toddler does the correct behavior, give praises, smile, or nod at them. Make them feel that you’re pleased at what they did. Hugs and pats can also be rewarding. Your child is going to appreciate the attention you give them more than a piece of candy or a small toy.
It’s important that you are genuine when recognizing the right behavior. Don’t just say “good job” without really meaning it. While praising them, focus more on what you feel rather than being judgmental on their behavior. For example, you can say something like “I’m so proud of you for putting away your toys” or “I’m glad that you shared your toys with the other kids”.
When parenting with positive reinforcement, you want to be specific about what you are praising your child for. Identify the exact behavior and action that you liked. This minimizes confusion on the child’s end and helps them figure out what they did right.
Giving negative comments on behaviors you don’t like to your toddler right away might make it difficult for them to internalize what makes the behavior negative. Instead, put off your negative judgments and talk to your child about the wrong behavior. Instead of constantly telling them to stop behaving badly, sit them down and ask them why they’re behaving that way. Help them realize that this behavior is undesirable and that they can behave better next time.
At times, kids might do right and wrong things in one situation. Parenting with positive reinforcement focuses more on doing the right behavior rather than the wrong one. For example, your child cleaned up their toys. But instead of putting them in the toy box, they placed it on the coffee table. Acknowledge and appreciate the effort and give them praise for it. You can then teach them the right behavior after.
It’s also a great idea to talk to your child about their progress. Contrast how they’re behaving better now compared to the past. However, avoid turning into a perfectionist, as well as comparing their behavior and progress with other children. Let your child learn on their own pace and be patient with them.
Care. 2017. “6 Positive Reinforcement Examples to Try With Your Kids.” Accessed on July 1, 2017. https://www.care.com/c/stories/3467/6-positive-reinforcement-examples-to-try-with/.
New Kids Center. 2017. “How to Use Positive Reinforcement for Children.” Accessed on July 1, 2017.http://www.newkidscenter.com/Positive-Reinforcement-for-Children.html.