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Strengthening Good Behaviors and Reducing Bad Behaviors

To strengthen a good behavior:

  1. Use positive feedback.
  • When your children behave, reward them by thanking them. When you see your children sharing, tell them that they should be proud of themselves.
To reduce misbehavior:
  1. Use positive feedback to strengthen the opposite behavior.


    • If you want to reduce the amount of arguing between two children, call attention to the time when they are not arguing.
    • If your children have a negative attitude, reward anything positive.

  2. Use extinction to eliminate any rewards for misbehavior.


    • Do not give in to your children's demands.
    • Ignore your children when they try to get your attention in a negative way.

  3. Use punishment.


    • A child who comes home late cannot go out the next day.
    • A child who does not do his chores forfeits part of his allowance.
A Comparison Between Positive Feedback and Punishment
Positive feedback feels good to give and receive. Punishment creates unpleasant feelings, often anger.
Positive feedback emphasizes good behavior. It teaches children to think. Punishment draws attention to misbehavior.
Positive feedback increases motivation. Punishment can have a negative effect on motivation.
Positive feedback creates feelings of success. Punishment can cause children to feel like failures.
Positive feedback improves a child's self-esteem. Punishment can have a negative impact on self-esteem.
Positive feedback gives children self-confidence. Punishment weakens self-confidence.
Positive feedback teaches children to trust their decisions. Punishment does not teach trust. It sometimes teaches fear.
Positive feedback motivates children to seek goals. Punishment may cause children to feel despair: "Why try? I always get in trouble anyway."
Positive feedback develops responsibility: "When I make good decisions, I feel good." Punishment often teaches children to avoid admitting responsibility for their actions.
Positive feedback promotes healthy family relationships. Punishment may alienate family members.
Positive feedback encourages children to talk to their parents. Punishment discourages children from talking to their parents.
Positive feedback teaches children to be positive with others. Punishment that is aggressive teaches children to be aggressive toward others.
Positive feedback is easy to use effectively. Punishment is difficult to use easily.

From How to Behave So Your Children Will, Too!. Copyright � Sal Severe, 2000. Used by arrangement with Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.


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