Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Positive Reinforcement

You know those days when the kids you're caring for just seem to want to be bad? Maybe the weather just changed or a holiday is coming up. Whatever the reason, there are days when the kids will look to the ringleader (you know who it is), just waiting for an excuse to do something they know they shouldn't do.

When it's one of those days, pull out a handy tool we call Positive Reinforcement. It may not work immediately, but then again, it might.

Here's how it works. The kids know they're not supposed to jump on the couch, but one of them (the ringleader, who might just be your own child) inches her way up onto the arm of the couch and looks at the others mischievously. Her adoring fans egg her on, inching themselves up into jumping position. If you don't act fast, they'll all be jumping on that couch within seconds, and you'll have to dish out timeouts right and left.

Just in the knick of time you see which child is behaving. It's Luke. "Oh wow," you say. "Look how well Luke is behaving. I'm so proud of you, Luke." The would-be jumpers will look to see exactly what Luke is doing. He's standing with two feet on the floor playing with the Duplo blocks. Somebody will jump down off the couch and stand next to Luke and possibly even pick up a Duplo block (hopefully not the one in Luke's hands). You gush, "Ava's behaving so well, too. Great job, Ava!" Before long, they're all off the couch, playing with toys, and timeouts were successfully avoided.

Has this method of re-directing worked for you? Do you have any other good ideas for changing a rambunctious dynamic during your co-op shifts?

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