The Benefits of Positive Reinforcement
We so often resort to a negative comment, consequence or discipline with children when we either want the desired outcome or see an undesired behaviour. Changing your mindset to positive reinforcement and getting used to this style of behaviour management can take time, however, it can be life-changing and incredibly beneficial to children.
What is positive reinforcement?
It is a way of encouraging the desired response with an incentive. Some people think it is all about rewarding a child with a prize or a physical object however this is not always necessary, and the reward of achievement or self-satisfaction can be an incentive too.
At Astor International School we focus on positive reinforcement. Let’s look at how it works in our classrooms. We use a traffic light system. Each day all children start on the green face. Over the day as they are working or displaying desirable behaviour their name can be moved up the traffic light, to outstanding, excellent or role model. Children strive to get to the higher levels over the day and feel a sense of achievement when they do.
Children are children and should be allowed to make mistakes, we need to use these mistakes as teaching opportunities not to discipline or shame. By using the traffic light system, we can move a child’s name down to the yellow face. A child’s name on the yellow face reminds the child they have something to work on, that they need to work on something to move up to the green face or higher. It also reminds the teacher that they have a child who might be having a bad day, need extra encouragement or extra support with their behaviour and they can encourage that child by giving them a prompt, guidance and there is a visual for the teacher and child to see.
If the child is not navigating through their concern the teacher can then move the child’s name to red, this means the child needs to take a moment to reset, to reflect and plan how to move forward. Astor uses a reflection sheet. On the sheet, the children start by identifying their feelings, then what they are doing wrong and finally how they can change or make it better. The teacher can then come in and have a discussion with the child on how they are feeling, ask them to identify what the problem is and the plan they have to move forward. Once the teacher and the child have come to an understanding, they make an agreement, and the child identifies their feelings again. By going through the process of reflection it allows the child to stop and focus on how they are feeling and what change they need to make. We live in a fast-paced world, it is important for all of us, especially our children to take time to identify their feelings and reflect on their behaviour.
A focus on encouraging desirable behaviour and reflecting on undesirable behaviour is far more beneficial than disciplining or shaming a child.