Earlier this week I blogged about an incident at our local Barnes & Noble. (Many of you offered words of comfort and support, some laughed, some of you even expressed concern; thank you all. We don't seem to have been blacklisted. I went back today--sans ma petite fille--and was allowed in without question or reproach.)
Since then, I've been voraciously reading any and all parenting manuals I can get my hands on. Most talk about the wonders of positive reinforcement, a technique we employ regularly. The Naomi Drew book I told you about, Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids really drives this idea home, encouraging parents to be very specific about their praise.
So, a couple of days ago, in the midst of another developing incident, I grabbed some construction paper, a couple of markers and some stickers and devised a personalized reward system: Olivia's Outstanding Acts page.
Whenever we catch her in the act of doing something good, or exhibiting behavior we want to encourage, we stop what we're doing and praise her--in simple, specific terms--immediately. Then we allow her to choose a sticker and to place it on her page, amidst much cheering and clapping.
It might be a little dramatic, but it actually seems to be working. She loves to choose the stickers and place them by herself. And she especially loves all the celebrating that goes along with it.
What I love about it is how it pulls the focus from "bad" behavior to good. It gives me a million more reasons to say "yes" than "no." It's shifting the dynamic.
Perhaps best of all, we're teaching her how to celebrate her own successes, a lesson this Mama could stand to learn herself.