When searching for a guided pathway of how to motivate your child, many parents jump on the bandwagon of positive reinforcement. The journey tends to get twirled up in a haze of confusion and judgment from other parents, leaving you trying to balance the “should I” or “shouldn’t I” mind scales of whether to praise and reward or not. This is especially true for families who have a child with special needs.
On the one hand, you feel fingers wagging away at you, directing the need for punishment, and on the other hand, you are striving towards helping your child gain self-confidence and any criticism or punishment goes against that.
Wave away those nagging warning echoes all around you and follow through towards mastering positive reinforcement with praise and encouragement to motivate your child. Special needs children especially respond well to positive reinforcement and it can be a way to help them through a meltdown or a hard sensory experience.
How to Motivate Your Child With Praise:
Encouragement is about praising for effort. Praising any effort encourages and motivates the child.
Praising children can start at early stages. There are many opportunities to praise. For example, you can begin praising them for agreeing to leave the playground when asked to or even for attempting to tie shoelaces by themselves. At the teenage stage, you can praise them for returning home on time, completing homework, and helping with any household duties.
Encourage your child during and before an activity as well. Children with less confidence need extra encouragement. When praise is focused on effort, it helps to motivate your child, especially when facing challenges. By keeping a focus on encouragement and expressing happiness, children develop internal evaluation and make them responsible for the action. They are left proud of achievements.
Rewards highlight encouragement and praise. Behavior is influenced by consequences. With praise, reward, and encouragement, good behavior will become a natural flow of habit.
Some effective tools are reward charts. They can be created as posters on a wall and there are apps available as well. Reward charts list positive behavior you plan to achieve like setting the table or tying shoelaces. Reward charts display a point of success in set behavior goals. They also encourage the behavior you require, like brushing teeth without fussing and discourage behavior you do not want, like throwing things around. Rewards for good behavior can be a treat or surprise ride on toy.
Note: Do not overuse the reward and remember that bribery and rewards are not in the same category. Rewards are given after good behavior, bribes before. The effect is not the same.
Many therapists use these methods as behavioral techniques for special needs children. Read more on that here:
3. Remember: Expressions Last Forever.
Do not fix blame, instead describe what the behavior has caused. For example, do not shout out “How much times did I tell you to sit in one place and eat, now look at this mess!” Rather say: “If we do not eat at one place the food will fall all over and make a mess.”
Your child will begin to start cleaning any mess made. When the child does eat without making a mess, appreciate it with praise. If your child makes you feel good, express it and encourage them every day. Your words will eventually have a big effect on your child.
Express feelings. Refrain from lecturing. For example, explain how it will affect you if you cannot get to a destination in time.
4. Practice Praise and Eliminate Criticism.
Children of all ages need encouragement and praise to enlighten themselves. Self-esteem and confidence seeds are a pivotal root towards blossoming abundant harvests of good behavior.
Try your utmost best to refrain from criticism and continue giving appreciation and praise. Every little achievement deserves praise. No matter how small it may seem, it is relevant.
The main argument against punishing or criticizing a child is that it strips away self-esteem and dwindles spirit. Rather, focus on reward and praise as this reinforces self-worth and children inherently desire to please their parents. Praise and reward will make a child steer towards good behavior.
5. Balance Praise and Reprimanding.
When a child adheres to practicing any good habits like kindness, honesty, loyalty, and trustworthiness, remember to praise generously. Get into a habit of avoiding any criticism and showering praises for good behavior. Do not fix blame; describe what the behavior has caused.
If you do come across a situation that calls for punishment, follow instead of saying something. Yes, that is right. Children are fully aware when they have made a mistake. Let them work it out by themselves instead of lecturing. When they take ownership of that mistake, they will think twice before repeating it. It might be difficult to follow their lead, but it does make a difference!
Guest Post By:
“I am Kevin, co-founder of the Toys Advisors blog. I have a lovely family with my wife Anna, my son Tom, and my daughter Jane. I spent most of time with my family, and in my free time I like to share what I’ve learned about parenting and DIY.”