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Reinforcing Children

Our goal should always be to stay focused on what the child does right. Little or no attention should be paid to inappropriate or challenging behaviors. Always look for ways to find what the child does well and then focus on and reinforce those strengths.

· Stay focused on the positive and then reinforce those positive behaviors

· Create a positive and reinforcing environment by delivering a high ratio of positives. Research indicates there should be 8 praises to every 1 correction.

· Praise is the most effective reinforcer

Visual Tactics to Reinforce Children

Despite verbal praise being highly rewarding, people, as well as children, respond better when there is a visual reinforcer. Our society spends billions of dollars every year on graphics and visuals because the power they have. Additionally, using visuals can reinforce ideas and behavior without nagging our children about them.

Focus on What You Are ReinforcingTake time to decide what behavior or behaviors you want to reinforce. You have to know what behavior you want to see in the child before you can reinforce it. What is most challenging to your child being successful in home and social settings? What is a “necessary” for daily living, but difficult for them to accomplish? What areas need more reward than a natural reinforcer can provide? When you determine that, you are ready to set-up a visual system.

Sample Ideas of Visual Ways to Reinforce Children

· Charts with Pictures: Gives the child a visual prompts to cue without you having to nag

· Tickets: Give the child a ticket when he exhibits the appropriate behavior. The tickets might later be used for a drawing or a certain number of tickets may “earn” something of the child’s choosing.

· Puzzles: Children earn pieces of the puzzle. When it’s complete they get the reinforcer.

· Poms in a Jar: Each appropriate behavior is reinforced by adding a pom to the clear jar. When the jar is full, the reinforcer is earned. A similar concept can be done with many items, including chocolate chips.

· Family Rules: Posted family rules remind children of expectations. Reinforce compliance with those family rules.

· Chart Movers: The child fills in spots as they exhibit the appropriate behavior, moving them closer to a larger reinforcer.

· Note and Gift Cards: Leaving a positive note on the bed of an older child or teen can be a great and quiet reinforcer. Add a special treat or small gift card if you wish.

Children want to meet our expectations and please us. Be creative in looking for ways t focus on what they do right. They ultimate goal of all reinforcement is teaching our children the behaviors that will make them successful in life.