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How to: Use Positive Reinforcements to Manage Behavior in Children

Positive reinforcement occurs when you deliver a reward following a desired behavior. Here are some tips on how to give these rewards in a constructive way:

Catch ’em being good

The moment you notice your child doing something good, reward them. This is called intermittent reinforcement and it is the most powerful way to use rewards to increase a behavior.

Be specific

Say, “I like how you [insert behavior].” This reminds your child what good thing they did to earn the reward.

If your child has trouble waiting for rewards, use “first/then.”

“First you do [the behavior] then you can have [reward].” As long as the reward is saved for when the child does the good behavior, you’re in the clear. Remember that you don’t want to discuss rewards while there is problem behavior going on. Doing so may confuse your child about what is expected.

You don’t have to reward every good behavior. If your child asks over and over for more, say, “Let’s do something different!” and offer them an activity you know they are good at doing, like a puzzle.

Put them Away

You need to put away rewards from time to time to keep them valuable. Keep it fresh by making a wheel of rewards from which your child can pick a prize or write a variety of rewards on paper, place them in a box, and have your child pick from that as well.

Special Situations

Being at the doctor’s office and getting a shot is very difficult for many children, so keep highly valued rewards for those special situations. Giving the highly preferred item as something to do at the same time as the Doctor’s visit can help your child remain calm.


Your child’s preferences may change over time, so keep up on what your child likes by asking them, seeing how they interact with new toys, new games, new foods, etc. Keep track of new likes.

Break it Down

For difficult tasks, reinforce smaller bits of the task. For example, at the start of homework, state, “That’s a cool pencil!”  or “Nice job writing your name at the top of the sheet.” Phrases like this can start things off on the right foot.

Structure is Key

If you don’t have a reward ready, the reward broke, or some other issue came up, don’t worry! Try to fill the time that your child would have spent with the reward with something they are ok with, such as a puzzle or outside time. Structure is key to keeping the positive momentum through moments of disappointment.

Be Immediate

Rewards are best given immediately after the behavior. Token boards, sticker charts, raffle tickets, and similar things are all ways to have your child work towards a bigger reward.

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Patient Reviews

LLA Therapy

Patient Reviews

Crystal Scheibe

Great place, glad we found them. Been going to Medina over 2 months now and he loves Lauryn and Kyler. Wish they had more ABA therapy places available... live in Wooster and long drive everyday.

Karrie Swan LaRock

My 11 year old son has dyslexia and has made noticeable gains in working At LLA THERAPY. Katie is strong in her approach toward him and also keeps him comfortable enough to perform well. We will continue visiting both the Fairlawn and Hudson offices and recommend them highly.

Ron Monroe

My 9 year old just completed about 9 months of weekly speech sessions (due to his stuttering) with Matt Hagge at LLA and we are thrilled with the experience and results. What I thought might be a negative (what kid really wants to go to speech class?) was made very positive by Matt, and my son never hesitated or complained when we talked about class. He really enjoyed it and really took what Matt taught him to heart. His speech has been greatly improved and we definitely recommend LLA. Thank you so much!

Heather Dougherty-Pantoja

My son’s Occupational Therapist, Jess, is an amazing OT! She gives practical tips on working with my son at home and school!

Terri Apgar

I cannot say enough good things about LLA Therapy. My daughter was a client of Teal Simmons’ for approximately 2 years and was just released from speech therapy! She was diagnosed with Apraxia in 2015 and worked with Teal twice a week. Through Teal’s application of PROMPT therapy, my daughter had age-appropriate speech after one year. All of the staff we interacted with at LLA were absolutely wonderful. They really care about what they do and making sure your child achieves their goals.

Kelli Geisler Davisson

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for my son as well as my family! My son always asks, "When can I go see Ms. Jeannine again, is it Monday??" He has also made huge gains in only 5 months! I would highly recommend LLA and have already shared my experience with friends looking for services!

Victoria Hansford-Price

We are so grateful for our Speech Therapist Ms.Teal. We have seen a great improvement with our sons confidence and communication abilities since we have started "Prompt" therapy. What we love the most about LLA and Ms. Teal is that Kohl feels comfortable and relaxed which has played a critical role in his progress. Thank you Ms. Teal for all you have done.

Laura Lee Hogsett

They have helped in numerous ways. Speech, OT and behavioral. I've had numerous compliments on my son's progress thanks in very large part to LLA. I would recommend LLA before I recommend our local children's hospitals, though they are good, they don't have the staff that LLA does.

Amy Furukawa

We had a great experience with Matt Hagge at LLA! Our Middle School age son was becoming very conscious of his voice, which is nasal due to a cleft palate. Matt helped him to better form his sounds and project his voice in a way that makes the unavoidable nasality less noticeable.Our son is more confident and outgoing & even took on a speaking role in the church play. Matt has the perfect personality to relate with our son, and we would recommend him to anyone needing speech therapy services!

Jessica Havalotti

LLA Therapy has been an excellent experience for our daughter. I would highly recommend LLA. Miss Grace was so amazing and I can't believe how quickly our daughter showed improvement. Thank you!
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