Parent Training - The Power of Words: Using Positive Phrases with Your Child - Cultivate Behavioral Health & Education - ABA Therapy

Next up in our Parent Training series, we will be discussing the Power of Words: Using Positive Phrases with Your Child. The powerpoint presentation below provides audio narration for ease of access. Click on the link below to follow along.

The Power of Words: Using Positive Phrases with Your Child

Positive Phrases Training Outline

Today we’re going to be focusing on:

  • Labeling expectations for your child
  • How to provide behavior specific praise
  • Talk through multiple examples
  • Role play scenarios

Labeling Expectations

Labeling expectations is something you can do across any activity with your child. This can include trips to the grocery store, outings to the park, or even homework tasks at home. So when you’re doing these activities, it’s really important that you label what’s expected of your child.

When doing this, you want to use really simplified language based on the needs of your child. If your child is younger, you don’t want to be using complex sentences but simple statements. And then, you want to tell you child the things you want them to do, not what you don’t want to see. We’ll walk through a few examples after this.

When labeling expectations, it’s important to use simplified language and to label what you want to see from your child. Let’s look at a few examples. You can say:

  • “Use two hands to carry your food”
  • “We walk in the house”
  • “Use a quiet voice”
  • “Share your toys”
  • “Put the toy in the bin”
  • “Hold my hand when we walk”

We’ll go through a couple more detailed scenarios so that you can try this on your own.

Labeling Expectations Example Scenarios

Now that we’ve talked through what it means to label expectations for your child, let’s try a few examples on our own. In this scenario, 6 year old Johnny wants to go outside and play in his backyard with his brother. What are some expectations you can label for him? Remember, we want to be using positive phrases that meets his needs. We also want to remember to tell him what he can do, not what he can’t do.

What are some expectations you labeled for 6 year old Johnny who wants to go outside and play? If they sounded like “we go down the slide”, “sit on your bottom”, or “take turns with your brother,” then you’re on the right track.

Let’s try another example: 10 year old Jenny wants to play video games in the basement. What are some expectations we can label for her? Remember, we want to be telling her what she can do, and we want to be using positive phrases. Keep in mind, Jenny is 10 so we can use a little more complex language in this example.

What expectations did you label for Jenny? Did they sound like “keep the volume low”, “set a timer for 10 minutes, or “take turns with your sister”? Are there other examples you can think of for this?

Providing Behavior Specific Praise

Now that we’ve talked about labeling expectations and what that means and sounds like, we’re going to move on and talk about behavior specific praise. Behavior specific praise is a really great way to reinforce the appropriate behavior of your child. Reinforcing these appropriate behaviors is going to increase the likelihood that those behaviors will continue in the future.

Similar to labeling expectations, we want to remember to use those positive phrases and positive voice. We want to be praising the behaviors that we want to see again. We can do this by using specific language and making sure it matches the needs of the child. Again, we can use more complex language for older children and simplifying it for the younger ones.

Let’s look at a few examples of what it means to be providing behavior specific praise. It can sound like:

  • “I love how you cleaned your room”
  • “Great sharing with your brother”
  • “Nice walking”
  • “Way to go finishing your homework”
  • Great playing”

We’re going to go through a couple different scenarios so that you can practice this in a little more detail.

Behavior Specific Praise Example Scenarios

Let’s try an example here. In this one, Bobby is playing cars and trains with his brother Joey. What are some ways you can provide behavior specific praise to each of the boys?

We could say things like “great sharing boys”, “nice job driving your trains on the tracks”, “I love how you built the train tracks”, or “great job cleaning up.” Can you think of a few additional examples?

Let’s try another example. In this one, 4 year old Katie is playing dress up with mom. What are some ways that mom can provide behavior specific praise to Katie? Keep in mind, she’s 4 so we want the positive phrases to meet her.

Some ways that her mom could provide behavior specific praise are: “I like how you spin in your dress”, “you picked a fun outfit”, and “good sharing Katie.” Are there other examples that you can think of?

Positive Phrases: Putting it All Together

Now that we have talked about outlining expectations as well as providing some behavior specific praise, let’s try some examples of this across different scenarios. So let’s take a look at the one below.

5 year old Minnie is about to help mom make lunch. What are some ways that her mom can label expectations for her as they make lunch together? What are some ways that her mom could provide behavior specific praise along the way?

Labeling Expectations: Mom could say things like “make sure to stand on your stool”, “wash your hands”, and “keep your hands down.”

As they make lunch, mom can praise her by saying things like “nice job listening to mommy”, “you hands are so clean”, and “what a yummy lunch you made.” Are there other examples you can think of for these?

Let’s try another example here. 8 year old Jeff is about to play catch with dad. What are some ways dad can label expectations for Jeff as they play? What are some ways dad can provide behavior specific praise along the way?

Labeling Expectations: Dad can say things like “get your mitt from the shelf”, “stand by the tree”, and “wait for me.”

As they play, dad can praise Jeff by saying things like “great catch”, “such a good throw” and “nice waiting for me bud.” Can you think of some others?

In this next example, we have 6 year old Tommy who is about to go to the grocery store with mom and dad. What are some ways they can label expectations for Tommy and what are some ways they can provide the behavior specific praise along the way?

Some ways his parents can label expectations for Tommy are saying things like “stay next to mom and dad”, “hold onto the cart”, and “use a quiet voice.” Some ways they can praise his behavior along the way are saying things like “great walking Tommy”, “nice job filling the cart” and “great listening to mom and dad.”

Training Summary

To summarize this presentation, we want to remember to outline expectations with your child across activities and environments. This can be across any activity that you complete throughout the day. When you observe your child following these rules, it is important to provide behavior specific praise. We want to make sure we use language that meets the needs of our child and we always want to use positive phrases that tells them what they can do or what they did that was correct.

That concludes this presentation on The Power of Words: Using Positive Phrases with Your Child. For additional parent trainings on topics such as the principles of reinforcement and creating visual schedules, visit our Parent Training page.

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