Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Well done - positive reinforcement

I’ve been reading a few blogs recently and quite a people out there are trying to do the ‘Intuitive Eating’ thing.

I found this ‘idea’ a few years ago and have been trying to live by it. I say ‘trying’ as it is not easy to do. If it was easy, then all of us with eating issues would read a book or a blog and just do it. Oh I wish!

I am also a big believer in being kind to yourself, looking for the positive in everything you do or that happens to you, even if it is just the lesson learned. Again, this is not always easy; in fact it’s downright hard, especially when it is preceded by many years of not being kind to yourself.

I have just read the phrase ‘positive reinforcement’. I don’t even know what the context of this phrase was but that’s not the point here, the point here is that as a mother of 3 children aged 10, 6 and 4 and the owner of a pretty full on puppy, positive reinforcement has been a big feature in my life for the past 10 years.

So, it got me thinking. Every day I praise the good behaviour in my children, especially when there is very little good behaviour, because I believe they will learn to get the reaction from me that they want. They will continue with the good behaviour and try and refrain from the bad.

Yesterday, walking the dog, she was a nightmare, I mean, my arm hurt from her pulling, my hands were red raw from holding the lead so tightly and I seemed to be using my ‘firm’ voice a lot.

This morning reading the ‘positive reinforcement’ phrase made me think about a walk a few days ago where she behaved really well. I didn’t wait until some time later to acknowledge her good behaviour, I didn’t say good girl – just the once. The whole walk (well except where it was dangerous to) I maintained eye contact with her and repeated the whole walk, ‘good girl, good girl, good girl. She knew I was happy with her. She didn’t need a ‘treat’. She needed, I believe the positive reinforcement. Still the next walk was not good, but I will continue and she will learn.

The point – what difference would it make if every time, we did something good, we praised ourselves, every little thing and at the time, not later in a journal but at the time. I understand looking in a mirror and repeating good girl over and over may not always be practical but a little acknowledgement in your mind I think could be helpful.

This isn’t just about the food; it’s about the self esteem. For example, if you handled a situation well, or in some cases, even just handled it because you have been putting it off for so long because it was outside of your comfort zone, acknowledge that, give yourself praise, ignore the bad, the something you could have said or done better, as you would with a 4 year old. I wouldn’t focus with my daughter on the one little thing that she could have done better, I would focus on the 15 great things she did.

And now I have got to the end of writing this, I realize that this technique is something psychologists have been trying to teach us for years.


KatieP said...

Great post ~ well done (LOL)

Kristy said...

Very very true Claire.

Well written :)

Michelle said...

Great post!