Does positive reinforcement for kids strike a bell?

Wouldn’t it just be easy if children came with an instruction manual? Well, unfortunately, they don’t. 

But hey, guess what? To ease your parenting experience, I have an idea.

When your child misbehaves, it’s obvious that a reward would be the last thing on your mind. Now, this might sound idiotic, but rewards aren’t all that bad. If used correctly, they can help better your child’s behavior. How? Let’s dive right into it.

The answer to your ‘how’ is ‘Positive Reinforcement’ for kids. 

“Positive reinforcement changes behavior for the better, while criticism stabilizes negative behaviors and blocks change”.
Virginia H. Pearce

What is Positive Reinforcement for Kids?

Positive reinforcement is essentially a discipline technique. Presenting a motivating item to a person after the desired behavior is exhibited, making the behavior more likely to be repeated in the future. 

Positive reinforcement for kids aids us as parents to nurture the good personality traits of a child, highlighting the strengths, and motivate good behavior. The whole idea behind positive reinforcement is rather simple. As already established, children respond much better to kudos than they do to criticism and corrections. 

“It’s just human nature that people, and kids, too, want to be acknowledged and recognized and they want to be appreciated. It’s nice to be noticed,” elaborates Judy Arnall, a Calgary-based author of four books on non-punitive parenting inclusive of Parenting With Patience and Discipline Without Distress.

How Does It Work?

Do you know how we go to work every day just to cherish that paycheck at the end of the month? I needn’t mention the day-to-day efforts we put in to receive that monetary reward.

Oh, and you know the moments of pride we get when our seniors or colleagues praise and appreciate our work?

Yes, those exact moments that push us to do even better are a form of positive reinforcement. So a little praise hurt nobody! 

Now, switching back to our little devil-angels (you know I say this with love, right?), aka our kids. As difficult as it may seem to get them to adhere to you, there’s a way out. Where there’s a will, there’s always away! 

No matter the age of your child, there’s a hack for them all. 

The younger ones respond well to those sticker charts. Now that I recall my days, I used to live to get a gold star on my chart.

I’d do whatever it takes, irrespective of my comfort zone to just get rewarded. So if you’ve got a child of that age group, I recommend you take out your art supplies and get cracking.

Examples of Positive Reinforcement

Now, there’s a lot of ways you can incorporate good behavior into your child’s personality. 

  1. Applauding 👏
  2. A high five 🙌
  3. A flattery pat on the back 👌
  4. A thumbs up 👍
  5. Offering something they like to do ⚽️
  6. Offering something they like to eat 🍔
  7. Praise 🥳

Okay, now don’t start overcompensating. 

There’s something known as negative reinforcement too. 

Let me spread it out for you. 


A quiz to see how you’re doing as a parent. Are you the cool one, or nah!🤓

Difference Between Positive and Negative Reinforcement for Kids

Like two sides of a coin, there’s a huge difference between positive and negative reinforcement. 

Let’s get into it. 

I won’t bore you with another definition of positive reinforcement for kids, so let us get started with what negative reinforcement is. 

Negative reinforcement is motivating a certain kind of behavior by eradicating an unfavorable stimulus. 

Now, don’t you get us wrong?

Negative reinforcement does not insinuate punishment. It only encourages certain behavioral patterns in the future. 

Stuck in hogwash? Okay, let me ease it out with an example. 

An Example of Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Kids and toys!

I am a hundred percent sure your child never puts back the toys after playing with them. 

Now you can come up with a clean-up song, or a ritual. 

This would be considered as ‘positive reinforcement’. 

You could also make use of negative reinforcement to urge your child to clean up his toys. You could tell the child that if he leaves his toys scattered, they’ll either break or get lost. He’ll not want to lose his toys now, would he? 

This would motivate him to clean up after playing. Thus implying negative reinforcement. 

“Instead of yelling and spanking, which don’t work anyway, I believe in finding creative ways to keep their attention – turning things into a game, for instance. And, when they do something good, positive reinforcement and praise”.

Patricia Richardson

It is of utmost importance for you as a parent to know when either of the two must be put to use. Overuse or underuse of this technique isn’t going to do you any good. 

“The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount”.

B. F. Skinner

Tips for Parents

  1. Consistency is key.
  2. Set up a reward system.
  3. Do not overdo it.
  4. Space out the reinforcements. 
  5. Praise more often.
  6. Do it with seriousness, don’t let it slip.
  7. Avoid accidental positive reinforcement.
  8. Show compassion. 
  9. Patience( it’s a virtue after all). 
  10. Know when to use punishment or negative reinforcement. 

“Positive reinforcement generates more behavior than is minimally required. We call this discretionary effort, and its presence in the workplace is the only way an organization can maximize performance”.

Aubrey Daniels

Benefits of Positive Reinforcement

By now you’ve probably gathered how instrumental it is to incorporate positive reinforcement into your parenting strategies. But let’s elaborate on the benefits of the same. 

  1. Positive reinforcement enables long-term benefits.
  2. It boosts your child’s self-esteem.
  3. It builds and nurtures character. 
  4. It makes your child feel loved.
  5. It makes you feel like a better parent.

Well, the list is endless. So let me cut to the chase.

Parents, if you want to do right by your children in the longer run, incorporate these psychologically proven techniques. This wouldn’t just do them good, it’ll help0 you become better parents and individuals. 

Should you wish to read more on different parenting topics and hacks, click here.

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