February 7, 2023

Pilleonlin Info

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Toddler 101: How to Reinforce “Good” Behavior

7 min read

Picture an evening at home, your children playing in the living room while you cook dinner for the family. Parents won’t normally check their children and say, “Oh! How nice of you two to play and take care of each other!”.

Now, let’s think of another scenario. While you cook, you hear your children fighting – screaming and crying. Your instinct is to run to the living room and take in the scene. You’ll say, “You two! Please, stop fighting and let mommy have some peace and quiet!”.

What does these two scenes tell you? We’re more likely to see the bad instead of the good. As people have mentioned, we remember the wrong mistakes others have done than the rightful acts.

Difference between Reactive and Proactive in Parenting

Parents tend to be more reactive than proactive. That is why it can be tiresome and annoying for some.


· Reactive is when an individual only makes a choice after the event happens. A type of parenting wherein it controls a child’s behavior by following what the parent wants.

· In Reactive, there will be more negative outcomes. Cite for example the second scenario, the parent stressfully shout at her children while they fought. Samples of reactive is when you say “Stop. No don’t do that!”.


· Proactive is the ability of an individual to make/plan out decisions before an event occurs. A parent becomes proactive on these examples: creating a meal plan or telling the child to bath after 10 minutes.

· This is when you give your child the choices and make him/her aware of the consequences of an action.

What’s the recommended parenting style? And how can you apply this? Proactive Parenting gives the opportunity for both parent and child to develop leadership and understanding.

Factors to consider for Proactive Parenting:

1. Identifying child’s behavior

Your child throws a tantrum at the middle of a social gathering. What will you do?

A. Carry away from the scene, distract and/or make him sleep while showing frustration.

B. Carry away from the scene and ask what happened while observing your child.

There will always be a reason behind your child’s behavior. It’s just how much you pay attention that’ll help you make sense of a situation. Learn to be more understanding of your child’s emotions.

2. Independency

Once you bathe your toddler, you:

A. Choose the type of clothes he wears and dresses him immediately.

B. Let your child choose his clothes and encourage him on helping you dress him up.

A child becomes independent only when you let him to. A toddler wants to explore his capabilities and one of it is pulling the pants up or down or choosing clothes. Don’t let your child grow dependent on you.

3. Stop being reactive

Your child starts to be violent to his sister. What will you do?

A. You’ll pull him away, point a finger and tell “Hitting your sister is wrong! Go and have a time out”.

B. Asks him the reason why he became aggressive and if it’s a right way to express his anger.

As a parent, you should be able to look at two sides of the story. Just because you saw your child hitting his sibling, doesn’t mean you should scold him. The best way to solve this is through talking and making him realize what he did wasn’t right.

The 3 C’s in Parenting

Being a parent comes with flaws, we don’t realize the impact of our actions during a heated event. It’s in human nature to be impulsive and expressive. But once you become a parent, you need to control these impulsiveness and rash emotions.

The 3 C’s aids parents to reinforce good behavior to their children. In order for you, as a parent, to understand why your child behaves ‘this’ way and how you can cope with ‘this’ behavior.


Every afternoon, little rob and his parents go to the park. But when they do, the child have violent outbursts so they’d decide to leave earlier than expected.

Why does your child misbehave and when does it occur? Being aware of what “triggers” your child can help you cope and/or guide him to act in the right way.

In the scenario, how do you interpret this? Maybe, rob didn’t have a nap or he dislikes playing outside? The answer to this is the child’s sensitivity to the environment. Toddlers would show displeasure when the temperature/weather makes them uncomfortable.

Imagine yourself in a corporate outfit, commuting on a hot day while sweat trickles down your neck. Most people would be in a bad mood because of the weather and the clothing.

This is what a child feels and they express this through crying or tantrums. The best solution to combat this is to wear comfy appropriate clothes.


A 20-month old toddler, Celine, tends to hit and shout at her parents when she doesn’t receive what she wants. What should Celine’s parents do?

When a child does something new such as exclaiming his/her dislike, adults will see it as an adorable act. But, showing how you find it cute will make the child repeat the behavior. You should set a limit and find a way to transition the bad behavior into a good one.

In this case, identify what kind of behavior your child currently has. Then, weigh if it’ll have a positive effect in the long term. If not, find an alternative option (or the behavior you want your child to have).


Lydia and George, parents of Bob, are having a hard time instilling good behavior to their son. When Bob throws and wastes the food, his parents would resort to feeding him.

How will you know when a behavior is too much? Are you afraid of “punishing” your child? Well, we all know that if you keep ignoring a certain behavior, the child will adapt to it. Ignoring is a way of telling your child, “it’s alright! Keep doing what you’re doing!”.

Toddlers can understand you through actions and simple words. Lydia and George shouldn’t have chose the easiest way, instead what they need to do was to tell Bob it wasn’t right. Let the child realize that this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

How? One way is through time-out but before that, analyze the reason behind his behavior. Maybe, all you need to do was decrease the amount of food. If you do these 3 C’s in parenting, you’ll be more aware of your next step.

The Power Of Conditioning

Reinforcing good behavior will never be easy, it’s not as easy as one flick of a finger. Are you familiar with Operant Conditioning? A theory created by B.F. Skinner wherein there are two factors; reinforcement and punishment.

Operant Conditioning explains the likelihood of changing a behavior. It’ll either be reinforcing change (encouraging an action) or punishment (getting rid of an attitude).

For reinforcement to be successful, you need to have a reward. Meanwhile, to be able to eliminate a behavior, you need to enforce a consequence.

Cynthia (24 months old) dislikes eating vegetables, she would start to cry or play with the food.


Reinforcing change is when you tell Cynthia that if she eats vegetables, she can play for an extra 10 minutes before bedtime.


But if Cynthia continues to do a bad behavior, you will have to let her stand up facing the wall instead of playing. So, how effective is this? As long as you employ the right technique, the kind of behavior you want will surface.

Always keep in mind that you shouldn’t always give a reward. The essence of reward is to instill the behavior you want. Once you see that your child isn’t having a difficult time adjusting to the change, you can eliminate the reward slowly.

As for punishment, it should be your last resort. If you have done everything from understanding your child and negotiating, you can use punishment.

Application of Reinforcement

Toddlers will be bold, you’ll always hear their cries of independence. There’s nothing wrong about a child wanting to try out an activity by their own. But you need to supervise your child, watch if they’re in their best behavior.

To reinforce good behavior, you need to praise them and show how you appreciate it. For example, your child giving you his plate after eating. You can tell, “wow! You’re a big boy now, thank you for helping mommy/daddy.”.

What the child needs is attention, give them the opportunity to learn the feeling of win and lose. Let them know that mistakes are normal. But make your child realize that once they failed, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try again.

As most studies mentioned, good behavior is learned and not an innate characteristic. With the correct use of reinforcement and punishment, you will notice grave changes on your toddlers attitude.

Motivating your child to execute simple activities in the right manner will produce good behavior.

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