Positivity is a powerful force. Everyone could agree that their daily lives could use a bit of extra positivity. For parenting children with autism, the use of positive reinforcements, verbal praise, and acting as a role model are essential elements to help a child succeed.
It is important to note that a positive reinforcer is not the same as a bribe. The important distinction is that for positive reinforcements, the reward is not given until the appropriate behavior is performed. Positive reinforcements are rewards given after the child demonstrates appropriate behavior without a prompt, or with a verbal or visual reminder.
When considering good rewards to use, reflect on the child’s interests, preferred activities, or favorite toys. It is important to make sure this reward isn’t something accessible outside of your conditions for achieving it (such as a toy that is always in their room). An example of a more special reward, that you have control over, could be an extra trip to the pool or letting your child have access to a certain toy. Always pair rewards with praise and encouragement.
As your child matures these behaviors as his or her own, rewards should be steadily scaled back and replaced with primarily praise. Praise and validation will keep your child motivated if he or she ends up struggling with other behaviors in the future.
One of the key aspects of effective positive reinforcement is making sure you are demonstrating the desired behaviors yourself. For instance, if you are trying to get your child to stop hitting things when they are angry, be sure you are not slamming doors or pounding your fist when you get heated.
Be sure to remember to keep your goals for your child realistic and to set him or her up for success. Children with autism tend to get discouraged easily and will require encouragement to keep them motivated. If your child has had a rough day, look for ways to end the day on a high note. Remind him or her of successes throughout the week, perhaps discuss a new opportunity to receive a reward the next day or create an opportunity to achieve one before he or she goes to sleep. The extra effort to bring positivity into your child’s life will no doubt go a long way.
Introducing the Neural Balance Parent Portal:
Parenting is demanding work! Keep pressing forward, and hold on to the lessons you gather along the way. If you have some lessons that you’d like to share, our Neural Balance Parent’s Portal is a great way to tell your story and help other parents along the way. If you’d like to submit a story, blog or tip, visit https://www.neuralbalance.com/parent-portal/ for submission info.