Tools: Reinforcing good behavior, positive reinforcement "If a child lives with approval, he learns to live with himself." ~ Dorothy Law Nolte, PhD
In any relationship, one of the ways to have more of what we want is to reinforce good behaviors. It's a simple concept. Yet many of us overlook this obvious aspect of human psychology and get so tangled up in the negative. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
A damaging lie is hidden in the timeworn chant. The truth is words mold us, torment us and define us. Children, particularly, are susceptible to the impact of a parent’s words. As people grow and develop socially, mentally and physically, they are affected and shaped by people’s opinions. This is often part of the struggle of a pwBPD.
Sometimes, we actually reinforce the bad behavior - enble it. Think about it. When was the last time you were more accommodating or more attentive because your partner was acting badly? And then hoped that negative reinforcment would somehow improve things?
Positive reinforcements motivates. We have all heard the 5x rule for teaching children (i.e., 5 positive reinforcers for every negative reinforcer). We have all seen or read the management training material on how to motivate others through positive reinforcement. If a person is not always feeling like they are being judged they will be more willing to do the things that need to be done and do them to the fullest. And positive reinforcement is the good way to fuel self-confidence... something many pwBPD lack. In fact, negative reinforcement often only works in conjunction with ample
After months (or years) of dealing with troubled behavior, the last thing you might feel like doing is being positive. But in living with a pwBPD, it is crucial that, even during conversations aimed at correcting behavior, you keep your tone positive.
The purpose of this workshop is to discuss the practical application and realities of creating an environment of positive communication.
Everyone benefits from feeling loved and accepted, and you can communicate those feelings in the way you speak.
----------------Setting the Tempo
Instilling basic healthy values in the household is part of the positive environment we want to help create for our relationship. Everyone will do better in a home of encouragement, approval, acceptance, praise than in a home of ridicule, jealousy, shame. Someone has to lead the turn around if this does not currently exist in your home. That is more likely to happen if you take the lead. Speaking in positive terms positively, showing compassion, and looking the person in the eye (rather than mumbling something as we go out the door) are all good things. Rewarding vs. bribing
Reinforcers are very important. But reinforcers vary from person to person. You should be aware of the reinforcers that your loved one values, and use them. Don't be frivolous - people see through it and it will have no meaning.
Use rewards when there is good behavior. But don't confuse rewarding with bribing
. You should never “pay” for good behavior” or have an expectation of reimbursement for good behavior.
Intermittent/varied rewards work best.Labeling is Disabling
Its easy to do - and it burns. Labeling has a "forever" and "always" implication. It says permanently flawed.Incorrect:
You're a liar. You were not visiting your sister yesterday as you said.Correct:
" I hear you telling me you were at your sisters yesterday. I am confused, though. I called there 2 times and your sister, and then your nephew told me you never showed up. Can you help me make sense of this confusion?"Setting Limits in a Positive Way
Dr. Haim Ginott's basic plan:
- Recognize and acknowledge the desire.
- State the limit calmly and clearly.
- Point out ways that their desire may be partially fulfilled.
- Allow the person express the resentment that arises when limits are imposed and coach them to find a positive side to it (e.g., don't let it just be a loss). "I know you would like to buy ______, we can start putting money aside and _____."