Children are complex, delicate and highly influential. Given that teachers spend a big part of almost every day with them, it’s critical that they provide a good environment and example. As much as the parents need to take responsibility for behavioral issues, teachers also have a part to play. More specifically, they should exercise positive reinforcement. Here are some positive reinforcement methods teachers can use in classrooms.
The last thing children want to do is remember the rules. In some instances they actually just forget, and they need to be reminded on a consistent basis. This is where teachers should pay attention to their verbal interactions, because a positive reinforcement involves responsive language.
The first step would be to provide the rules in a positive light. So, instead of telling them what they can’t do, tell them what they can do. Rather provide them with options and leave the “can’t do” off the list.
As for the responsive language part, it’s about giving a clear reason for punishment. Try to stay respectful, and validate what they feel. For example, if Jimmy doesn’t want to share, take him away from the problem area and distract him with another one.
Using Visual Examples
Not all children have the ability to understand verbal instructions. And if the children are 4 years old, it’s not much use writing it down. When there’s a student or child who has difficulty following rules and instructions, give a visual example with a clear verbal statement.
If you want them to put their backpacks in a certain spot and a certain way, show them while giving instructions. If possible, put up an illustration next to the rules. This will eliminate any confusion.
Praise Appropriate Behavior
The best way to establish new behavior on a positive note, is to praise the behavior whenever it comes along. Yes, there is a balance that should be kept in mind, because too much of a good thing can turn south. But during the initial process, focus on reinforcing good behavior.
At the same time teachers should do their best to ignore bad behavior. This doesn’t mean allowing the children to do whatever they like, but if they don’t cross the line for disciplinary action then ignore them. Or more specifically, if they don’t disrupt the class. From an early age children learn that bad behavior gets a lot more attention, and by acting on it teachers reinforce the behavior.
Don’t Make It Personal
It shouldn’t be a game of good-cop bad-cop when it comes to stating the rules. There’s no reason to get personal or threatening. Instead, with respect and clarity, tell the child the logical consequences of their actions. If they break the rules, they get punished. And while they get punished they should be reminded of why it’s happening.
Once you bring emotion into the mix you lose some authority. When it comes to a teacher and child situation, the rules and consequences have to clear, and without emotional influence.
Some Final Thoughts
These are just some positive reinforcement methods used in classrooms, and there are many more to incorporate. And even though it sounds like somewhat of a cold approach, it’s very effective.