Tag: problem solving

Positive Reinforcement: Examples and Cautions

If you’ve followed Love and Logic® for any period of time, you know how strongly we believe in holding youngsters accountable for their mistakes and misdeeds.

As most of us have learned the hard way, the road to wisdom and responsibility is paved with plenty of small mistakes and their consequences.

As we go about shaping the hearts and minds of our children, it’s important to remember that this road is also paved with positives. While it’s unrealistic…and not too healthy…to reward our kids every time they do something good, we’re wise to remember the value of reinforcing good behavior and good deeds.

The healthiest and most powerful types of reinforcement involve time and attention rather than stuff. Examples include:
•  Sitting on the floor with your toddler as you allow them to repeatedly destroy your tower of blocks
•  Noticing something your teen has done well and patting them on the back
•  Saying to your child, “It looks like you really worked hard on that. I bet you’re proud of yourself.”
•  Playing catch
•  Doing a puzzle together

As we provide reinforcement, it’s wise to remember the following:
•  Reinforcement is more powerful when it comes as a surprise to our kids.
•  Reinforcement loses its power when our youngsters come to expect it.
•  Rewards should not be given every time our kids do something good.
•  When our kids beg for or demand rewards, they shouldn’t get them.
•  Avoid saying, “You are so smart.” Focus on your child’s hard work and perseverance.
•  Your love should never be used as a reward or a consequence. Your children should have it all of the time.

The most successful parents always remember that it’s their job to give their kids the most accurate taste of the real world as possible. This means that we help them understand that much of the time hard work and good deeds provide positive results. It also means helping them understand that we do these good things because they’re the right thing to do…rather than because we expect rewards for doing them.

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay
©2009 Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.d.& Love and Logic® Institute

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Connor Forgets His Snack

We had been struggling to keep second grade Connor focused on his “morning school routine” list as he is a major dawdler, as most are. So one morning I realized both my husband and I were reminding him of checking his list, “Do you have your snack? Have you made your lunch?  Where’s your water bottle, etc”. Annoying for us and him I’m sure. I told my husband that we needed to let him fail and so we decided to stop reminding and let him focus on his tasks.

Last week was a perfect Love and Logic teaching moment. We had the “set him up for success” conversation the day before, discussing what tasks needed to be done in the morning and then put our plan into action.

The next morning I modeled out loud,  “Ok, what do I need to do this morning?” Connor was wandering around. I made breakfast, we ate. I said “I’m done, so I put my dishes in the dishwasher. Now I am going to brush my teeth.”

Connor was still eating. I got ready and sat in the chair where he still was and announced “Bus is leaving it 10 minutes”. He finally got up and went to his room and then went to the bathroom. I announced, “5 minutes”. Then the doorbell rang and it was the two neighbors that we walk to school with. I told them to go ahead without Connor since he was running late.( I am now laughing inside because this is going to go just as planned.)

He came out of the bathroom, wandering around, and said “Who was at the door?” “The neighbor’s,” I said. He said “WHAT! WHERE ARE THEY?” So I calmly told him that since you weren’t ready, they should go on ahead since I didn’t want them to be late for school.  He said “MOM! WHY DID YOU DO THAT?”  “Well you weren’t ready, so I’m waiting on you”.

You have never seen a 7 yr old move so fast! As we head out the door he starts to get in the car and I say “We’re walking.” “WHAT, we’re going to be late!” he says. I say “probably so” and calmly start walking up the street. He is now running and wants me to run too but I don’t.

We get to school with five minutes to spare, but here’s the best part. He is unpacking his backpack and realizes he forgot his snack and water bottle.  He says “Mom, we forgot my snack and water bottle!”. His voice tapers off a bit as he says water bottle. And then just looks at me, hangs his head, and knows it was he that forgot it. I said, “Yeah, what a bummer, love you, have a great day” and walked away, smiling. I just wish I had a camera to capture the look on his face.  As I walked out of school I was laughing and patting myself on the back for allowing him the experience of this logical consequence.

Then next morning and since every morning since he is proudly telling me or his dad that he’s got everything ready.

Shelly Moorman
©2009 Shelly Moorman, Head & Heart Parents

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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Limit Screen Time and Encourage the Act of “Doing” with Your Child

What does your child ask when bored? Is it, “I’m bored. What can I do?” or is it, “I’m bored. What can I watch?”

If it is the latter, you are raising a future watcher, not a future doer. And if this is the case, my heart goes out to your child. Becoming a watcher is not a recipe for future happiness and productivity.

Brain research shows that the brains of doers and the brains of watchers are different as a result of the way that person spends his/her time.

Do your kids a big favor and restrict electronic entertainment to 30 minutes per day. Turn your child’s bedroom into a bedroom instead of a multi-media entertainment center.

Take the TV out of the child’s room, and put the computer in a public area of the house. This is not illegal. It is the act of a responsible parent. If you have any doubts, read the works of researchers such as Dr. Stanley Greenspan.

When your child complains about this, answer with, “I know it’s hard, but I’m your parent. It’s my job.”


Jim Fay
©2009 Jim Fay, Charles Fay, Ph.d.& Love and Logic® Institute

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Head & Heart Parents is owned by Kerry Stutzman, MSW, a Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Love and Logic Parenting Instructor. In addition to private therapy and parent consulting services, Kerry offers parenting classes and workshops in Denver and the surrounding areas for toddlers, elementary, and teenage children.

As author of the easy-to-read “Save Your Sanity” series, Kerry helps parents save their sanity and sense of humor while raising young children with love and laughter.

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