Of horses, children, and all things teachable

Recently, I took my daughters on a field trip to Forever Florida to learn more about Florida's cattle history and horsemanship. While there, we participated in a horse training session. During the session, positive behavior was reinforced with a treat or verbal praise, and negative behavior was redirected. Within about 15 minutes we had trained one horse to yawn on command and another to roll a ball back to you. I was intrigued because I use this same technique in my Kindermusik classroom each week! Positive reinforcement can start with a small treat or verbal praise each time the desired outcome is achieved. The rewards will then begin to decrease as the new habit begins to form. There are a number of reasons that positive reinforcements works.
  • It supports what the child is doing right instead of focusing on what the child is doing wrong.
  • It increases the odds that your child will behave in that manner again.
  • It encourages your child's positive choices when you "catch them being good".
Positive reinforcement is nothing new to parents, but we often get so busy that we miss the opportunity. If we're not careful, we may only notice when the behavior has become undesirable. When that happens, it's important to redirect your child back to the original goal and reinforce the appropriate behavior once it occurs. I'm sure they will be galloping to success in no time flat! ;)

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