Article from Dr. Jen Mayo at Behaved Brain.
February is about love, family, and friends. While increasing family unity should always be emphasized, try to spend this month especially dedicated towards increasing positive behaviors at home.
Focus on Reinforcing Positive Behaviors
Children love attention, whether it be positive or negative. This month, focus on reinforcing your child’s positive behaviors. This means providing verbal praise, or even small reinforcers or rewards, when your child does something good, even the daily chores he or she is expected to perform (e.g., when your child brushes his teeth, puts his dish in the sink, or cleans his room). By reinforcing these positive behaviors, your child will enjoy the positive attention you are giving him and then want to continue engaging in these behaviors, as he will recognize that he is doing a good thing.
Earn Rewards, Instead of Taking Things Away
Again, it is essential to focus on rewarding the positives. Implement a behavior chart or plan within your home. Use this chart for your child to earn his preferred activities. For each task successfully completed, your child can earn time towards his favorite activity (e.g., time on the iPad). If a child does not complete a task successfully, you do not take away earned time, but he does not earn the time for that task that was not completed. This type of plan reinforces positives behaviors, instead of focusing on negative behaviors. This will help your child connect doing the right thing with positive reinforcement and preferred activities as the more positive behaviors he engages in, the more time he earns with his preferred tasks.
Use Healthy Competition to Motivate your Children
Playing games is something that all children love to do. So why not implement ‘games’ in the home that will help make your home environment better? A fun and competitive game that you could play to help eliminate foul language in the home, is the “Trashcan Words Game.” Bring your family together and have them write down words that they think are inappropriate or should not be used in the home. Each family can develop their own list of ‘trashcan words.’ You can have your family place the words in a small trashcan, or in a basket of any sort. Each day the person who uses the least amount of ‘trashcan words’ is the winner for the day and is rewarded. Each week, the person who won the most days can receive a larger reward. Rewards do not have to be physical items. The winner of the week may be able to choose where to eat dinner on the weekend, or pick the game for family game night. This game can be modified to address other concerns that you might be having.
Children feed off of their parents’ emotions. If a parent is stressed or nervous, their children will feed off of their emotions. As parents, it is important to remember to take time to yourself. Schedule alone time to do something that you need to do for yourself. Also, schedule alone time with your significant other. It is important to maintain a connection with one another, without having your children present! This will help with your mental health as an individual, and will help to create a better overall, relaxed home environment.
Ask for Support
Feel free to reach out to us at Behaved Brain to answer your questions on how to increase positive behaviors in the home.
Dr. Jen Mayo
Behaved Brain Wellness Center