Do feel you feel your toddler or pre-schooler is keeping your hands full or find yourself swearing by the ‘troublesome twos and threes' and worrying too much about raising them into well-mannered adults? Worry not, you are on the same page with thousands of parents out there.
While there’s no fair rule-book when it comes to parenting, corporal punishment is a big no as studies say strict parenting proves ineffective in the long run. Apparently, the best way to make problematic kids into better-behaving ones is through 'nudges'.
A theory by 2017 Nobel laureate Richard Thaler, a Chicago University professor, the nudge theory stresses on thinking in your kid's shoes. According to the theory, by knowing how people – kids in our context – think, we can make it easier for them to choose what is best for them. Giving a 'nudge', positive reinforcement, could work wonders for your kid.
Kids tend to behave well when they are rewarded (a positive reinforcement), the same way, an employee would feel motivated when her boss acknowledges a work well done. Instead of pointing their mistakes, try to encourage the good things they did and watch the changes it brings in them.
Using words of encouragement is very important. Instead of saying “no” all the time, try to explain why they shouldn’t do something. And if they listen to your instructions, do not forget to praise them. Tell them how you liked them putting away their toys after playing or sharing it with friends/sibling or being a good listener who waits for their turn to speak, etc. You can also reward them to encourage such good behaviors.
Reinforcing positive behavior helps children feel happy and proud about the choices they make, and it motivates them to polish those behaviors. Positive reinforcement and praise will enable children to pick up values in lives.
Several studies have shown how positive reinforcement is more powerful than punishment. Behavioral psychologists Ivan Pavlov and B.F. Skinner worked on these lines and their theories support the importance of positive reinforcement.
There are many ways to make your child learn good habits. Give me five, bucket systems, ticket dippers, are all different ways pre-school teachers and parents try to instill good behavior in kids. An easy one that anyone can do at home is the sticker rewards. You just need a chart or a big sheet of paper and some color stickers for this one.
Once you identify the areas the child needs improvement, list them out on a board and every time the child responds positively, reward them with a sticker. You can offer them a toy after they receive an x number of stickers.
Paste the chart at a place where your child can easily reach. You can personalize the chart with your own priorities. For example, wash hands after using the toilet, share toys with friends, eat vegetables, be a good listener, etc.
Using pictures will help them understand the expectations better. Before starting the practice, explain the chart, the good behaviors that you expect from the child, and how they will be rewarded for their actions thoroughly.
Negative reinforcements or criticisms will hurt their pride. On the other hand, positive reinforcements will boost their self-esteem. Children need verbal affirmations and our words and actions can help us raise a happy and well-behaved child.