You did it! Why positive reinforcement works (for grown-ups, too).

December 9, 2016

 

Are you thinking a bit these days about all of the things that you didn't get done yet on your infinite to-do list? Today, I'm suggesting you flip that frown upside down and make a mental or written list of everything you DID do-- this week, this month, or even this year. You might be surprised at how much you've done, even if it's a micro-accomplishment like changing a burnt out light bulb that you've been ignoring for weeks (speaking from personal experience).

 

We can be harsh critics of our own progress, forgetting to give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back or, what we refer to in early childhood as, positive reinforcement. When we overlook these opportunities to offer praise, we do ourselves a disservice. Why? Because we often repeat behavior that is associated with positive feelings. I propose that, in addition to your many to-do's, you create a DUN/DONE/DUNZO list and then toast yourself with a beverage of your choosing-- you just may create a new habit for yourself.

 

In the parenting translation, this positive reinforcement is key to helping children develop out of challenging behavior. Challenging behavior may be impossible to ignore and seem, at times, infinite. However, seeking out moments when your child is listening, responding, empathizing, sharing, or any other emotionally engaged task and praising them will be worth it's weight in gold because they will gravitate toward the praise. Even the micro-accomplishments: "you got your pajamas on the very first time I asked you! I knew you could do it!". Like many parenting skills, practicing positive reinforcement takes time and finesse (sometimes it may feel like looking for a needle in a haystack). But you just might realize that, amidst the many challenges in raising young children, there are plenty of moments to celebrate.

 

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