Positive reinforcement is reinforcing what the child is doing right and not what he is doing wrong. You can support your child’s positive deed through enthusiasm, encouragement, and logical rewards.

Jane Nelsen Ed.D., who had been writing on positive parenting since the 1980s

Nelsen’s Positive Discipline Handbook explains that there are several pieces to the puzzle of positive discipline and that understanding of reasons for misbehavior, acceptance of mistakes as an opportunity to learn, cultivation of mutual respect, and shared problem-solving are a must.

positive discipline tools eliminate the need for punishment and prevent the potential damage that can be caused by permissive parenting (Gfroerer, Nelsen, & Kern, 2014).

positive discipline model is based on kindness and firmness at the same time. It encourages parents to provide opportunities for children to develop in areas that will strengthen their perceptions and skills in core aspects of life by asking curious questions and involving children is setting limits.

Positive reinforcement is one of the best forms of disciplines. It focuses on amplifying what is good in the child and their caretakers.  It helps parents to tap in to a child’s individual strengths, personality traits and interests, which help and encourages children to be more of themselves.


                                          ” The aim of Positive Psychology is to catalyze a change in psychology from   

                          preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life”.

–  Martin Seligman


Often we see parents comparing a child with other children, by saying “Look at Mathew, he is such a good athlete, why can’t you be like him?”  Parents say and do this, with the intention of motivating the child, and hoping this would encourage him to do better.  But what they don’t realize is, addressing the good of other children and the bad in their own child, only makes the child more demoted and lacks self-confidence. As they grow older, these self-sabotaging thoughts become bigger challengers in life.


Positive reinforcement is to Encourage behaviors we want to increase,

  • if your child cleaning her teeth without a fuss,
  • if your child is practicing new skills,
  • tying his shoes or loading a dishwasher – parents can encourage him to continue and encourage this behavior

For many parents the natural tendency to correct and fix behavior problems was ingrained in their own upbringing and is usually well-intentions, but over-reliance on this approach deprives us of the many opportunities to notice what our children already do well.

for positive reinforcement to be effective, it may require a change of habit on the part of the parent as much as it is intended to change the behavior of a child. If your not use to praising your child, it will be something a parent has to learn to do and it may not feel natural at first.

The most important aspect of effective praise is to complement the behavior not the person. Finally, a child’s sense of competence can be fostered by reinforcing behaviors that speak to their strengths and can be cultivated through creating opportunities for mastery of skills and practice of perseverance and commitment.


Some positive reinforcement in schools, that can easily translate to parenting include:

  • Compliments and recognition
  • Public praise, positive notes to parents and teachers
  • Pats on the back, smiles, handshakes, and high-fives
  • Being the teacher’s helper or choice of classroom chores
  • Reading, making crafts, playing sports, or other preferred activity with someone special
  • Extra credit or bonus points on school work
  • Posting work in a place of honor
  • A homework-free night
  • Choice of activities
  • Time or lunch with someone special
  • Increased recess time


The type of rewards we provide is also very important

  • Natural reinforcers in the form of good grades or a sense of self-satisfaction for a job well done are most effective as they support self-esteem, sense of agency, and increase intrinsic motivation.
  • Social reinforcers like recognition or approval of others that can be expressed through compliments, encouragement, and specific praise are also very powerful as they communicate acceptance and belonging.
  • Token reinforcers that are offered in place of tangible rewards can also be effective in encouraging progress toward goals as they can be used immediately and are an effective visual representation of continuous effort. A child can earn points or accumulate token which they can then trade-in for something of value to them.
  • Finally, tangible rewards can be used to kickstart motivation, but satisfaction in the job well done should be stressed. We want to use rewards to restore motivation not to make them the object of pursuit, so the children don’t become dependent on rewards.


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