Gratitude is Positive Reinforcement –


Gratitude is Positive Reinforcement

Studies show that children who are taught to be gracious and courteous at an early age far surpass their peers in academic and social achievement. The upcoming holiday months are an ideal time to fortify these valuable character traits and positively reinforce the good behavior. Take the time to share and refocus on what matters most to your family. This November, explore the power of positive reinforcement by demonstrating the importance of gratitude in your home. Compliment your child’s gracious and courteous behavior and watch your child be inspired to achieve more than he or she had before.

Here are three ways you can make positive reinforcement a part of every day.

Identify What You Appreciate as a Parent The first step in nurturing a child’s sense of gratitude is to identify the kinds of behaviors that you appreciate and value. These can be chores like doing the dishes or completing homework without being told, but they can also be more thoughtful or spontaneous things like holding the door open for you when you have your arms full of grocery bags. While the things that you may appreciate may not be obvious to you right away, take your time on this critical first step because it is a very important part of the process. Make a mental note to recognize these positive behaviors with an expression of “thanks.”  Identifying your child’s daily actions for which you are grateful is a very important part of building a child’s confidence and inspiring him or her to continue on a path filled with grace and courtesy.

Recognize Your Child’s Efforts Once you’ve identified areas in which you want to encourage and praise your child, make it a point to recognize these behaviors whenever possible with more than just a “thank you.”  Children as well as adults have been trained to say, “thank you,” so it goes a long way when you articulate exactly what it is that you are thankful for. For example “Aimee, I really appreciate you walking the dog today, even though I didn’t ask you to. When you help me like that it makes my day so much easier.” Hearing this will inspire much more than “You’re welcome, mom.” By clearly communicating in this way, your actions will have a much stronger impact on your child.  Not only will it make him or her feel warm and fuzzy inside, it will encourage your child to be more proactive in helping out around the house during the holidays. Going out of your way to make the “thank you” extra special and specific can have a huge impact on your child’s school work, special projects, training classes and household chores.  People need to feel appreciated and loved, and your child is no different. Being recognized and praised at home is important to a child’s development.

Introduce Challenges When children are inspired and motivated by those they look up to, they perform at a higher level, with more energy and determination. You can use this to benefit you both. Your child may be excelling at chores, and completing all of them regularly. Or you may notice an increase in your child’s reading time. Propose taking on more responsibility at home, or reading for 10 more minutes each night. You can simply say, “Nate, I have noticed how well you are reading each day. Do you feel like reading for another 10 minutes tonight?” In this way, you are not making this a new policy but you are gently encouraging a behavior that motivates your child to achieve at his or her fullest potential.

Taking the time to identify and recognize positive, gracious behavior, in and out of the classroom, is a valuable form of gratitude. It also empowers you to challenge your child beyond the potential he or she thought possible. Combining gratitude with positive reinforcement demonstrates to your child how much you appreciate the little and large accomplishments. Make grace and courtesy a part of your everyday behavior and it will become part of your child’s. Gratitude is a great way to positively reinforce your child’s good behaviors and it’s the thing that motivates your child to do more and be greater. Positively reinforce your appreciation for your child’s behaviors and well-mannered spirit with consistency and you might find that success, personal confidence and an “I can do it” attitude also become constants for your child.