For whatever goals we may have for children, one of the most successful tools we have to help them is to give positive feedback.

Sometimes this is easier said than done. Because we are bombarded by bad news in the media and because our brains tend to naturally notice negatives this can be challenging for many of us, especially if we don’t already have the mindset to seek out the good in things.

It can also be very challenging when our expectations are not met. For instance, we expect that when we tell a child to get their backpack and meet us at the car to leave for school that they should be able to do that supposedly simple thing. But if your child has ADHD they may get distracted several times between getting their backpack and going to the car, so we’re more likely to focus on the fact that they didn’t do what was expected for their age. Because of this we may not notice when they are successful for things like this that may be very challenging for them. If we can catch those moments and praise them it goes a long way toward helping them improve their skills.  (Adults are no different. We are much more likely to work harder for a boss that recognizes our hard work than one who is always telling us what we did wrong.)

For instance, if keeping them at the table for the length of a meal is nearly impossible, praise them while they are there and seated.

*First, always make sure they understand the expectation: “during dinner the expectation is to stay at the table the whole time.” You may be surprised that children don’t always understand our expectations automatically and we may need to be very explicit.

*Add praise, and be specific (avoid just “good job”, instead, “that’s wonderful! Thanks for staying at the table! Dinner is better when you are here too.”) Start to focus on any small success and give lots of genuine praise.

*Be aware of your own energy level. If you can stay calm your child is more likely to stay calm as well.

*Be consistent in how you respond to your child.

Also see my post about how to give praise here.

By taking time to learn about ways to help your children you are doing a great job, parents! (There’s a little positive reinforcement for you!)