You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t smile at the opportunity to receive positive acknowledgement. Regardless of what the recognition is based on (a personal character quality, an accomplishment, or even something seemingly trivial), the end result is the same: a sense of pride. As adults, we clearly see the necessity for positive reinforcement in the workplace and in relationships, but do we effortlessly, and appropriately, magnify our children’s positive behaviors and qualities?
Children want attention and approval from everyone who surrounds them. Even the youngest of children make connections between the attention they receive and the behaviors they exhibit. It is like the old adage, no publicity is bad publicity. Children inherently crave attention, and they will behave in whatever way gives them the best return. We need to provide them with an understanding of positive attention in order for them to consistently pride themselves on good behaviors. When we magnify their good behaviors, we show them through example that there is a positive way to be noticed. Doing this when it is least expected adds value to the interest they see you taking in their everyday actions. The goal is for our children to be conscious of their words and behaviors, even when they think no one is watching.
- Celebrate independency. Compliment behaviors that are your child’s independent and conscious choices. This makes children own the action and the recognition.
- Celebrate positive choices. When trying to deter a specific behavior, reference a better choice your child has made in the past that would serve as a model, rather than magnifying their poor choice.
- Celebrate in the presence of others. Compliment your child on exceptional behavior in front of others while in their presence to add value to their good choices.