Around this time in the school year, many students start showing their bad habits full force. They’re struggling to keep up with homework, showing their attitudes in the classroom, and forgetting about projects until the last minute, among other problematic behaviors. It can betempting for both parents and educators to give the student negative consequences in order to provide a “stick” that will push them toward better behavior in the future, but in many cases, those negative consequences can fail to elicit the response they’re after.
The Purpose of Consequences
Most parents and teachers institute consequences in an effort to teach the child something about the behavior they’re exhibiting. Punishment is designed to be a more extreme form of the consequences a child might naturally experience as a result of their actions in order to give them incentive to perform better in the future. Unfortunately, many parents and teachers fail to keep the purpose of consequences in mind when enacting them. In some cases, they may simply want to see the child suffer for their negative decision rather than helping them to see the problem with the choice.
Positive Reinforcement Builds Better Results
Many teens are more likely to strive for a goal than they are to avoid negative consequences. In some cases, teens may assume that they “can’t be caught” or that they “won’t have to worry about it.” Their brain development simply hasn’t reached a point where they can see the full range of potential consequences that could result from their negative behavior. Punishments, therefore, often fail to have the desired result. Positive reinforcement, however, can have stunning results for many teens.
Teenagers aren’t willing to admit how much positive reinforcement matters to them, but nevertheless, it has an extraordinary motivation on their thought processes and their actions. Positive reinforcement allows you to mold the behaviors that you want, showing teens exactly what behaviors you want to see. It also keeps their focus on the positive and what they’re able to do well rather than constantly forcing their focus to the negative.
Positive reinforcement can take several forms. It may begin by actively calling out good behavior and letting the teen know that you’ve seen what they’re doing and that you appreciate it. You might offer your child a reward: for example, if they raise a poor grade, complete their homework in a timely manner, or make it home in time for curfew several times in a row, they can achieve a specific reward. This might come in the form of more freedom, increased time with friends, or another reward that your child desires.
Experimenting With Natural Consequences
Natural consequences, particularly with teens and tweens, allow your child to recognize the effect of their actions without actively instituting a punishment. Natural consequences aren’t about instituting a punishment for a child. Instead, they’re about allowing the child to experience the natural effects of their decisions without interfering. For example, you might:
- Allow your child to experience the poor grade that results from failing to study for a test.
- Permit your child to feel tired after they’ve chosen to stay up too late the night before, rather than bailing them out and letting them take a nap.
- Choose not to bring your child’s forgotten lunch or project to school.
During the teenage years, your child is shaping the behaviors and thought patterns that will follow them for a lifetime. By carefully encouraging positive behavior through positive reinforcement, rather than focusing on negative consequences, you’ll see your child begin to bloom. If you’re looking for a school where the teachers focus on positive reinforcement rather than negative consequences, contact ustoday to learn more about our school and how it can work for you.