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Increasing Positive Behavior

To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.
Mark Twain

In an article that forms the basis for a popular Exchange Reflections, “Affirm the Child, Not the Behavior,” Daniel Gartrell provides an example of how to increase positive behavior by affirming the child, not their challenging behavior:

“Take the case of 42-month old Gabriel, who crowds a smaller preschooler off an adult’s lap in order to get a favorite book read. Gabriel causes a conflict here to gain the privilege of closeness to the provider and control of which book is read next. Does the adult punish Gabriel for this mistaken behavior? Hopefully not, as disciplining Gabriel will only aggravate unmet needs for acceptance and belonging. Does the adult read Gabriel’s book as though nothing has happened? Hopefully not, as rewarding Gabriel will only reinforce the child’s (and perhaps the adult’s) confusion of a need for attention with a need for affirmation.

Instead, the early childhood professional knows that the kid only has 42 months of experience and an early-developing brain. S/he uses guidance instead of conventional discipline to affirm and teach what the child needs to learn for healthy emotional and social development…

Ignoring a very crowded lap, the educator whispers in Gabriel’s ear:

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