Behaviour Guidance Tip – Pairing Positive Reinforcement with a Child’s Name

Did you know the impact of pairing positive reinforcement with a child’s name can;

  • Provide positive attention
  • Enhance self-esteem
  • Build self-confidence
  • Establish a sense of belonging

Toddler Scenario:
The whole family is sitting at the table for dinner.  Charlie is looking at his plate and notices a new food. He pushes his plate away and says; “I don’t want that”. The parent says, “They’re peas, they taste good”. The parent refrains from using Charlie’s name. After Charlie eats the preferred food on his plate, he decides to take a small bite of peas. The parent waits until Charlie tries again and then says with a big smile; “Charlie, you tasted your peas”. Charlie smiles.

Focus points:

  • Charlie associates his name with positive attention for his behaviour of trying a new food.
  • No attention is given from the parent when Charlie pushes his plate away.
  • Charlie’s self-esteem is enhanced because he tasted the peas.

School Age Scenario:
Joah is playing a board game with Jack. Joah changes the rules. Jack stands up and shouts at Joah, “That’s not fair!”.  The educator approaches the children and says, “You both love to play this game, and rules can be hard to remember. Let’s review them together.” The educator refrained from using the children’s names. Joah and Jack play again this time following the rules. The educator approaches the children and says, “Jack and Joah you remembered the rules. You are having fun playing Snakes and Ladders together”.

Focus points:

  • Joah associates his name with positive attention from the educator for his behaviour of following the rules of the board game.
  • Jack and Joah’s sense of belonging is confirmed because they are able to continue playing the game independently.
  • Their self-esteem and confidence has increased because the educator had confidence in their ability to learn and follow the rules.
  • Minimal attention is given to the children for changing the rules and shouting. Instead the educator focused on reviewing the rules with the children.

Brooks Hachey and Jocelyne Desbiens, Behaviour Consultants
Children’s Integration Support Services