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Orange text that reads "The Power of Praise - How Positive Reinforcement Creates Lasting Relationships" next to a photo of a man holding a child in front of a neutral background. they are both smiling. | Denver Counseling for Parents

Power of Praise – How Positive Reinforcement Creates Lasting Relationships

Good girl to write your blog! Oh. Hi. That’s me, praising myself, compliments of this wonderful “Real Simple” article.

I love this concept and probably need to work on praising myself and others more. Great job to set a goal! Way to go for making dinner. Awesome that you snagged at least 10 snuggles in with your 3 year old today. Thanks hubby for making it to the grocery store and the gym. Wow, you played so gently with your sister and made her giggle.

The reminder to pile on the praise makes me think of potty training (and really, what doesn’t remind me of potty training these days?). I read another recommendation recently (which I cannot relocate in order to credit) which said to eliminate (!) any dialogue about potty training unless it is praising the correct behaviors. Easy enough to decide, much harder to implement.

This recommendation is quite similar to the parenting concept of the “soggy potato chip theory” coined by Fitzhugh Dodson in “How to Discipline With Love” (1977). The idea is that any attention, even negative, is better than no attention. In other words, if all a child (person, pet, coworker) receives is negative attention, they will seek it out through the repetition of the behavior that elicits it, usually, acting out.

In the world of potty training, I am SLOWLY learning that any prodding, cajoling, bribing is adding up to a big old pile of soggy potato chips and no poopy in the potty. Good girl to back away from the potty!

Both our relationships with our children and our partners need a balance of positive reinforcement that outweighs the negative. Marriage and relationship researcher John Gottman has found that a ratio of 5 positive reinforcements to every 1 negative makes relationships last.

Try it for yourself. Go and praise everyone in your family for something good. And don’t forget yourself!

If your marriage, partnership or parenting could use some help in keepin’ it positive, call me at 303-513-8975 or schedule your appointment to work toward the relationship you want with the people you love.

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