Beyond carrots and sticks

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By Paul Dixbehaviour specialist

Take a look at our advice on how positive reinforcement is an effective way of managing behaviour

Girl doing 'thumbs up'

The image of the stick used to force children to behave well has a violence that echoes another era. I am not going to use negative reinforcement, threats or any other ‘stick’ wielded in anger to force my class to behave. I am going to encourage children with a softer stick: kindness.

The most powerful technique for wielding the soft stick is to remind children of their previous good behaviour as you tackle their present actions. For example: ‘Ashraf, do you remember when you helped me clear up the classroom? That is the Ashraf that I need to see today, that is the Ashraf I know can make good choices.’ There is nothing to argue with and nothing to attack.

Avoid short-term fixes

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