Sometimes it can seem hard to develop the strong, safe and supportive relationship that we’ve just been describing if a child’s behaviour is difficult to manage. So we’re going to look at some ways to help with this.
If you increase the time your child spends behaving in a friendly and cooperative way, this will leave less time for them to behave in a way you dislike.
You can encourage your child to behave well for more of the time by rewarding them when they behave in a way that you like and wish to encourage. If a behaviour is followed by something positive, the behaviour is strengthened and is more likely to be repeated in the future.
One way of increasing desirable behaviour is by giving positive attention. If you do this when they behave in a way you like, you will reinforce that behaviour. When a child receives praise for something they’ve done, it’s far more likely they’ll do it again.
Here are some tips on how to do it.
This includes statements of exactly what your child did that you liked. For example:
“Thanks for tidying up the books.”
“You’ve got yourself dressed, that brilliant!”
“Well done for eating all your dinner.”
This helps your child to know exactly what they did that you liked and makes them more likely to do it again. This should be used as often as you can and more often than unlabelled verbal praise.
This does not tell your child exactly what behaviour is being praised, but is still a reward. For example:
If you want to use praise effectively, you need to consider not only what you are saying, but how you are saying it. You need to think about your tone of voice and facial expression. Don’t give praise when you look or sound bored or critical. Give praise in a pleased, enthusiastic way – and smile.
You can give your child positive attention by:
Physical rewards such as hugs, kisses, pats and squeezes are ways of letting your child know that you like their behaviour. Positive touches can be added to verbal praise to make it even more powerful. It is important to remember that kisses and hugs should be used often and not reserved as a reward, and positive touches are only considered positive if your child shows they like them.
Evidence to support this information
has been carefully researched.
Further details can be obtained by emailing email@example.com
First published: May 2005
Revised and updated: 2012
Review date: March 2014
* The information provided in these pages uses the following key source: The Parent/Child Game Jenner, S. Bloomsbury, 1999