Saturday, 28 May 2016

Praise not punishment

Squidge looking deep in thought in Hay on Wye

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how we parent Squidge.  It’s funny really, you have this idea of what kind of parent you’re going to be, I had visions of fretting over every tiny bump and not letting him touch anything.  But in reality we’re way more laid back than I thought we’d be. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t let him get in dangerous situations, and he’s always supervised.

Back about 6+ months ago, we realised we were saying ‘no!’ a lot to Squidge, and telling him off. After thinking about it, we realised this wasn’t how we saw ourselves guiding him, we always said ‘praise not punishment’, and it’s silly really, he always loved being praised, so that’s what we started doing.  If he stood by the TV and didn’t touch it we’d say ‘Good boy for not touching the TV’, we’d find any little thing we could to say ‘Good boy’ or ‘Well done’ about and he loved it, he’d clap with glee that he’d done something good.

We saw instant results, we were hardly ever saying ‘no’ or telling him off, he did good things because he wanted the praise.  Well, 6 months on and we’re still doing the same and it still works well.  Don’t get me wrong, if he goes to do something really bad like stick his fingers between the door and the door frame, we’ll tell him no and explain why.  Sometimes he’ll have a proper toddler meltdown because we’re not letting him hurt himself (lol), but that’s ok, he needs to learn that in life you don’t always get your own way.

There’ll always be boundaries they test ‘Can I climb the stairs this time?’ or ‘Maybe I can touch the TV?’ but the message should be the same – explaining why they can’t do that.  And if something is a persistent issue, maybe trying taking the temptation away – if they want to climb the stairs all the time, put a stairgate across it.  If they want to touch the TV all the time, fit it to the wall out of reach. 

But remember to praise as much as you can, they respond so well to hearing they’ve been good :) Well, Squidge does, obviously not all children are the same, but positive affirmation has to win over being told off, no one likes that :)



  1. This is interesting, I'm always saying no to Aria but will have to start trying this instead.
    She is always pulling things off the table so maybe I will start praising her when she manages to shuffle past without pulling anything off!

    1. We found that - and we found he was naughtier when we said no and would do whatever it was more. It won't work for everyone, but it really worked for us - just finding any tiny thing you can say 'Well done' for and clapping with praise (they love it! And then crave the praise) :) Let me know if you try it and how you get on :)

  2. I agree. Praise is so much easier too. It doesn't mean that there's never any "no's" just less of them because their behaviour changes too.

  3. I totally agree praise, praise praise and ignore 'naughty' behaviour. You don't want to give reinforcement with attention when children do something wrong.

  4. Love this, it's all about the praise! I hate the sound of my voice when I'm constantly saying, 'No.' Great post xx


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