Yesterday Caidin and I went to Adams Fair Acre Farms café for dinner. I had picked him up from a friend’s house and on Wednesdays, Caidin’s Dad teaches at NYU so he doesn’t get home until late. So I figured Caidin and I would stop at Adams for dinner and then pick-up some fruit in their store.
As we walked into the café Caidin walked ahead and held the door for a couple coming out and continued to hold it while I walked in. I said ‘thank you’. We got to the counter to order and he peppered his order with please and thank you.
Once we finished eating and headed into the store, I heard him saying ‘excuse me’ and ‘I’m sorry’ to people he had cut-off or ran in front of.
We reached the check-out and I said to him ‘you know, I’ve noticed how polite you are being tonight, it’s really nice, thank you.’ This only encouraged him more. He offered to carry the bags to the car, thanked me again for dinner, held some more doors and was courteous to a few more strangers.
I am always amazed at how effective positive reinforcement is. We can get stuck in a negative cycle and what always pulls us out is acknowledging the positive. It’s worked at age 2 and it still works today.
I suppose there is a bigger lesson in this, which is more universal. If you focus on the negative you just get more of the negative. If you focus on the positive, you get more of the positive.
As a Conscious Parenting strategy positive reinforcement has worked better than any punitive approach (time-outs, restrictions, taking things away).
It makes sense if you stop and think about. Kids don’t want to be bad or do things that we don’t want them to do. They want to feel good about their own place in our family. If we reinforce the negative they get more and more frustrated just as we do. When we focus on the positive everything changes for all involved.
As you make the shift from negative to positive reinforcement it may take a while to find something that your child is doing to praise. But be patient and you will find it and when you do, jump on it and really acknowledge it with them. Little by little you’ll see more and more things to celebrate and far less things to complain and nag about.
You may also find, as we do, that at times you just get stuck in the negative. As soon as you have the conscious awareness of it, STOP. And wait for that positive moment to acknowledge. Soon you’ll be back into the harmony and balance that comes with positive reinforcement.
© 2012 Christine Agro
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Christine Agro is a clairvoyant, naturopath, Master Herbalist, conscious mom and author of 50 Ways to Live Life Consciously as well as of The Conscious Living Wisdom Cards (Special Moms’ Edition). Christine is founder of The Conscious Mom’s Guide , a membership site where she helps support you on your own journey of living life consciously and on your journey of being a Conscious parent. You can also join Christine on Facebook. To contact Christine, invite her to speak or to schedule an appointment with her please email her.