Positive behavior support and positive parenting are methods that work to teach kids right from wrong using natural and logical consequences (e.g., you make a mess you clean it up; you take something without asking, you give it back; you break something on purpose, you work to earn the money to fix it; you are disruptive in the movie theatre, you leave the theatre).
Positive behavior support methods also acknowledge hard work and effort (you worked so hard on that project, I love the effort you put into your piano lessons, you were such a kind friend to Jessica, etc.). Kids are noticed for the good things they do, and when they are having a hard time empathy and compassion are used to show kids you are in their corner and understand their point of view, even if you don’t agree with their behavior.
Boundaries are set but in a loving and confident way, rather than a scary or threatening way. A true relationship is nurtured. The child feels respected and heard and in turn the adult is respected and heard. There is a mutual understanding that we are a team (a family, a community, a classroom) and we work together for the good of the group. Certain things do not come free (toys, games, tv, amusement parks) and children understand their role in working towards the things they want to do.
Many people think positive behavior support is a sticker chart or a reward system. It is not! It is a science that includes a set of rules, and I can tell you that after 20 years experience in the field of behavior as a behavior specialist working with families in their homes, and as a school psychologist working with students, when used correctly, positive behavior support demonstrates positive effects on behavior. It is a way of talking and behaving:
-phrasing things in the positive-walk vs. don’t run
-acknowledging responsible behavior
-setting boundaries-if you want to do X, you must do Z first
-using natural and logical consequences
-being empathetic, compassionate and caring
-working with and relating to your child/student
-teaching and guiding your child or student by using logical explanations and setting examples/modeling positive behaviors such as compassion, generosity, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, hard work, empathy, active listening, resiliency, and teamwork.
Recommended Books and Tools for Positive Behavior
- Evidence Suggests That the Coping Cat Program Reduces Anxiety in Children and Teens
- Sample After-School Visual Schedule for Kids with Sensory Needs or Impulsive/Hyperactive Behaviors
- 9 Methods to Teach Toileting to Individuals on the Autism Spectrum (and to those with other developmental disabilities)
- 5 Great Games to Play in a Social Skills Group
- How to Handle Temper Tantrums (Home & School)
Rachel Wise is a certified school psychologist and licensed behavior specialist with a Master’s Degree in Education. She is also the head author and CEO at educationandbehavior.com, a site for parents, educators, and counselors to find effective, research-based strategies that work for children. Rachel has been working with individuals with academic and behavioral needs for over 20 years and has a passion for making a positive difference in the lives of children and the adults who support them.