Praise: Behavior Strategy

Praise: Behavior Strategy

Caugh you! …Doing something good! This is a behavior strategy that involves using praise throughout the day in order to teach children that they appropriate (expected) behavior will get them more attention than inappropriate behavior.

Over the years I have provided speech and language therapy to children that have struggled with behavior difficulties. It is not uncommon for children with reduced ability to communicate to exhibit challenging behaviors. Increasing communication skills is part of behavior intervention so it’s no wonder Speech-Language Pathologists play a crucial role in helping improve behavior. Challenging behaviors can hinder a child’s ability to learn skills and can cause a lot of stress in and out of the home environment.

One thing I have learned is the power of praise.

Positive behavior support is an approach to intervention that focuses on providing positive reinforcement and teaching socially appropriate ways to get needs met. By effectively teaching functional ways to communicate, you are increasing the likelihood that the child will use the learned communication rather than the behavior to get his needs met. Check out my article on the ABC Behavior Strategy for useful tips and strategies.

A note about communication:

I’d like to point out that communication does not have to be verbal. Communication can involve the use of spoken language, gestures, American Sign Language (ASL), pictures, photos or any other method that works for the family and the child.

What can you do?

The act of catching your children doing good things is a very powerful tool that can shape how your children respond to you and create a more positive home environment.

This is essentially an exercise for parents and may reduce inappropriate behaviors over time. It involves being mindful of catching your children doing something good throughout the day and telling them what you notice. The idea is to provide positive reinforcement by frequently praising good behaviors. If your child is demonstrating inappropriate behavior, try to ignore the behavior and wait until the child is calm. Once your child is calm, teach appropriate ways to get their needs met. I am not asking that you don’t discipline your children by ignoring poor choices they may make; I’m simply suggesting that you find moments to incorporate this Caught You Doing Something Good method into your daily routines.

Here are some examples of what “Caught You Doing Something Good” looks like:

  1. If you notice your child sitting nicely while eating a snack- say, “good job eating your snack at your chair.”
  2. If you notice your child throwing trash in the trash bin- say, “Thank you! That was very nice.”
  3. When you notice your child listening to you quietly while you give instructions- say, “I’m proud of you for doing good listening.”
  4. If you notice your child finished a puzzle- say “I’m so proud of you, you put all the pieces in the right place.”
  5. When you notice your child walking next to you and not running- say, “you are doing such a good job walking next to me.”

Some children will need more praise than others. Praise does not always have to be verbal. It can also involve non-verbal forms such as ASL, giving high-fives, hugs or thumbs-up. Ultimately, you will know what works best for your child.

Good luck and have fun catching your child doing something good!


Dunlap, G. (2005). Clinical Issues: Positive Behavior Support: An Overview. Perspect Lang Learn Educ, 12(1), 3–6. doi: 10.1044/lle12.1.3.

Zurawski, L. (2015). Utilizing Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports to Reinforce Therapeutic Practices in the Schools. Perspect Sch Based Iss, 16(1), 4–10. doi: 10.1044/sbi16.1.4.

DiLuzio, L. (2015). What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do: Dealing With Challenging Behaviors in a Therapeutic Session. Perspect Sch Based Iss, 16(1), 11–14. doi: 10.1044/sbi16.1.11.

Photo credit: Josh Liba on Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-ND

I’d like to know what you think! Go ahead and leave me a comment below.