Positive Behavior: Clever Ways to Give Kids Praise

Positive parenting is a nurturing, loving way of raising children that teaches them to be independent and helps them grow into happy adults.

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One of the main principles of this parenting style is to reward positive behaviors and give kids praise in order to get them to repeat those actions.

How to Track and Reinforce Positive Behaviors in Kids

One of the first things to do when trying to instill good behaviors and good habits in children is to begin tracking those behaviors. This not only lets your little ones see how well they’re doing and create enthusiasm for reaching their goal, but it also helps you reinforce the positive behaviors you’re trying to encourage.

For example, if your goal is to get your child to clean their room, reward them with praise each time they successfully complete the chore. Once a child receives praise for a specific action, they are more likely to repeat that action. If praise is used enough times, children will be more likely to cooperate in other situations, too.

For younger kids, a sticker chart is a great way to track and give kids praise for positive behaviors. Each time your child repeats the desired chore or behavior that you wish to instill in him or her, add a sticker to the reward chart. Milestones help them work toward a goal, like completing a week of the tasks to earn a special reward.

Rewarding positive behavior provides reinforcement and helps children learn that their actions have consequences – and the better the behavior, the greater the reward. This doesn’t mean you should go broke buying toys and gifts every single time your little ones are well-behaved. Instead, praise and encouragement are the best ways to let children know that you are pleased with their actions.

Reward systems do work on a “treat” basis, though. Once your child or children have accumulated a certain amount of points or stickers on their reward chart, it’s important to give them praise in a more tangible manner. Here are some clever ways to give kids praise that really make a difference.

Verbal Praise

Words of encouragement for kids can have a powerful positive impact. Whether you’re praising their academic performance or small achievements at home, “Well done”, “Good job” or “You’re so smart” are common words of encouragement that children love to hear for tasks well done.

Verbally praising your children can boost their self-esteem, motivate them and encourage positive behaviors. So, how can you get the maximum benefit from verbal praise? Try these simple tips:

  • Be honest and sincere. Your children know when a compliment or praise is authentic. Instead of saying, “You’re a genius!” when your child solves a problem correctly, try saying, “That’s a very good answer.”
  • Be specific. A generic “good job” works, but kids respond better and are more likely to repeat the task in question if you use concise language and examples. For instance, saying “Great job following directions today!” tells them that you are pleased by a specific behavior.
  • Focus on the effort. This is especially important when your child struggles with certain activities. Instead of telling them how smart they are, tell them how proud you are of how much effort they put into a specific task.


Say “Yes” to Everything for a Day
You may be thinking, “no way!” but you’d be amazed at how much fun your child (and the whole family) will have if you reward your little one with the ability to do whatever they want – within reason, of course.

They might ask for pancakes for dinner or to stay in their pajamas for a whole day. Reward them for a job well done with the freedom to choose how the family spends a day together.

Give Them a Day Off
Just like adults need a break from working hard all week, kids need a break from their hard work, too. If they’ve filled up their chore chart for a full week, consider giving them a day with no chores as a reward.

Another variation of this is to give them the option of which chores they’d like to choose for the next week. If they dread washing the dishes, but they completed the task for an entire week without complaining – let them pick which chore they’d like to do to replace it.

Screen-Time Tickets
We’ve touched on the importance of screen-free activities and taking time as a family to bond without your digital devices, but it’s not feasible that kids (or parents) can go 24/7 without a screen. Instead, give screen time as a reward for positive behavior.

Outdoor Family Adventure
No one ever said that parenting was a walk in the park, but we guarantee that a special family day at your local park or hiking trail will make a special reward for positive behavior milestones.

If your little ones enjoy spending time outside, screen-free activities are a great way to make an outdoor adventure a perfect bonding experience as well as a fantastic reward for following the rules all week long. Make it even more special by letting your little ones choose the plans for the day.

Make their Favorite Meal
Praising kids can be as simple as making them their favorite meal as a reward for getting good grades or remembering to clean up their room. Surprise them with all of their favorite foods or just make a meal that you know they love to show them how much you appreciate the extra effort they put into their behavior.

If they’ve worked extremely hard at something and you want to make their reward even more special, consider taking them to their favorite restaurant or having a special backyard picnic.

Family Game Night
Board games, card games or even a game invented by your family are always fun. For an extra special reward, let your child choose which game you’ll play together. Let them make up their own silly rules to add an extra twist – especially if it gives them an extra advantage at winning!

Brag About Them
Everyone likes to hear that they’re doing a good job at something! Tell your partner how well your child is doing (within their earshot) or call a grandparent to let them know. A video chat with extended family will let them bask in the limelight a little, especially if they have good grades or a new skill to show off. This will not only help build their self-esteem, but make them feel good, too!

Help build good habits in your children with a reward system that works best for your family. Whether you’re potty training or teaching your little ones the importance of chores, tracking and treating positive behaviors builds their self-esteem, shows them the benefits of their actions and keeps an upbeat atmosphere around what could be a stressful task.

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