Thursday, March 19, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

My son as taken a liking to lollipops. Correction, a loving to them. Maybe it's just lust, but only time will tell. He asks for one every day, sometimes three or four times per day. It's an addiction.

He was introduced by his speech therapist. When used during a lesson; either by her, by my wife, or by me, it can be used to strengthen lips and cheeks as well as to promote greater oral awareness.

Of course, it can also be used for evil.

Or at least, a lot of whining.


No buddy, it's time for breakfast.

I...I want lollipop, please.

Go sit in your chair, please.


And the saga continues. Several times per day.

I did use it the other day for positive reinforcement. Upon entering the house from playing outside, he promptly, and without prompting from me, sat down and took his shoes off.

I made a big deal out of it, gave him praise and hugs and kisses, then told him that he deserved a lollipop for doing such a good job taking his shoes off when he came inside.

Hopefully two things happen. First, he continues to take his shoes off as soon as he comes in the house. Second, that he doesn't expect a lollipop every time he does so.

The reality is that rewarding good behavior it touchy. I don't want to fall into the trap where behaving properly becomes a way to get things. They behave correctly because that's how one is supposed to behave.

Some of you are saying, Ha! Wishful thinking! Or other, more profane things.

But, to me, that's where parenting gets tough. But I only have one kid (until May 5th) and he's only two-years-old. We'll see how long I last.

In the mean time, we'll see how the positive reinforcement works out.

I should also mention that it really does work for oral awareness and lip rounding. There are several exercises one can do and it is especially good when the parent and child each have one and use them in front of a mirror (expect him or her to ask to trade with you at some point - he or she will wonder if yours is more tasty.) If you are curious, just ask and I can send details about the exercises.

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