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Quick Tips

Responding to Good Behaviors

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Children enjoy getting attention from parents and other caregivers. Giving your child positive attention for good behavior can boost his self-esteem, improve your relationship, and help your child understand the behaviors you like and want to see more often. The skills described below can help you give your child positive attention for good behavior.

  • Praise means giving attention to your child for something he has done that you like.
  • Praise should be as specific as possible.
  • Use labeled praise to tell your child exactly what you like (examples below).


Unlabeled Praise

Great Job!
Way to go!

Labeled Praise

What a great job of putting your toys away!
You did a super job making your bed!
Way to go sharing with your brother!

  • Imitation happens when you copy or mimic things your child does.
  • Imitation is when you play with the same or a similar toy and copy the way your child is playing with it.
  • Any behavior that is imitated by you is likely to be repeated by your child, so carefully choose which behaviors to imitate.
  • Description involves giving attention to good behavior and talking about what your child is doing.
  • When you use description, you describe your child’s activities as a sports reporter or commentator would describe it. You provide a lot of detail so that someone who is listening but not watching would know what your child is doing.

Active Listening

When parents actively listen to their children, they show that they care, understand, and accept the child’s feelings and needs and try to understand how the child feels about what is happening. Reflection is one way for you to show that you are actively listening to your child. Some ways to do reflection are:

Reflection of what your child says:
  • Repeat out loud what your child says. You can extend, add to, shorten, or correct what your child says.


Your child says:

“I drawed some sghetti.”!

You say:

“You drew some spaghetti.” (grammar and pronunciation correction)


“You drew some long spaghetti.” (grammar and pronunciation correction with elaboration)

Reflection of your child’s feelings:
  • Notice how your child feels about something and describe the feelings with words.


Your child is:

Seems sad

You say:

“I can see that you’re upset.”

Special Playtime

Special playtime is time you spend with your child when you focus on the positive things your child does. Special time with your child is important in building a nurturing relationship. Keep the following in mind during special playtime:

  1. Try to make special playtime at the same time each day and have it at a time when you can focus only on your child.
  2. Try to spend at least 5-10 minutes each day on special playtime.
  3. Let your child lead the play.
  4. Praise your child’s good behaviors.
  5. Imitate your child’s behavior.
  6. Describe what your child is doing.
  7. Reflect your child’s words and emotions.
  8. Be enthusiastic.
  9. Limit questions and commands during special playtime, as they take the lead away from your child.
  10. Try to stay positive and avoid criticisms during special playtime.
  11. Ignore minor misbehaviors during special playtime.
  12. Have fun and be silly!