Parenting Tips

3 Simple Parenting Tips: How to Create Behavior Change Fast

Are you looking to influence behavior change in your child? Then you will want to put these three simple parenting tips into action. They’re a great way to create positive behavior change fast! 

Simple Parenting Tips #1: Find a sparkling moment.

A sparkling moment is an exception to the rule. The first step to generating positive change in your child is to seek out sparkling moments. Exceptions to the rule happen all of the time. The problem is that we parents sometimes forget to reinforce them. Sparkling moments include times when our children:

  • Go to bed on time.
  • Eats their vegetables.
  • Says “please,” and “thank you.”
  • Runs over to give us a hug.
  • Helps their brother or sister.
  • Cleans up their toys.

Finding a sparking moment and highlighting it is an easy and quick parenting win!

Simple Parenting Tips #2: Ask the hero question.

The next step is to reinforce the positive behavior by asking the hero question, “How did you do that?” The hero question encourages your child to analyze success. You might state, “Wow! Your room looks great. How did you do that?”

If your child doesn’t know, help him form an answer. You might state, “It looks like you picked up one toy at a time until your room got clean.” The hero question does a couple of things:

  1. It reinforces that the positive result came about because of a positive choice.
  2. It helps your child to break the positive behavior into steps. If your child put these steps into action once, he or she can do it again.
  3. The time, attention, and focus on the positive action, are a strong reinforcer of positive behavior.

parenting tips

Simple Parenting Tips #3: Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce.

The final step is to reinforce positive behavior over and over again. This can be done through:

  • High-fives.
  • Stickers on a sticker chart.
  • Hugs.
  • Verbal praise.
  • Taking a picture of the accomplishment.
  • Bragging to your spouse about the job well-done, within earshot of your child (This is one of my favorite reinforcers).

[Tweet “Behavior therapy teaches us that when actions are noticed and reinforced, they happen more often. “]

Bonus Parenting Tips: Use shaping.

Shaping happens when parents reinforce the small steps on the way to the larger goal. Perhaps your child picks up a single toy–but doesn’t clean the whole room. If you lavish on the praise, then you are practicing shaping. Shaping rewards small steps on the way to a larger goal. And it’s an effective way to generate positive behavior change in a child.

Would you like to see positive changes in your child this week? Then put these positive parenting tips into action.

  1. Seek out the sparkling moments.
  2. Ask the hero question (How did you do that?).
  3. Reinforce, reinforce, and reinforce some more.
  4. Finally, use shaping to build momentum.

Proverbs 22:6 encouraged parents to train up their children in the way that they should go. These parenting tips are an excellent way to put this wise advice into action.

Continue the Positive Parenting Conversation

Dive deeper with these questions for reflection and discussion.

  • Which of the positive parenting tips presented resonated with you the most?
  • Have you used any of these positive parenting tips before? If so, how did the word for you?
  • Which parenting idea will you implement first?
  • What parenting tips or thoughts would you add?

We love hearing from you. Feel free to leave your parenting tips, tricks, and ideas in the comments below. 

P.S. For more practical parenting tips from psychology and the Bible, be sure to check out my book, Coffee Shop Inspirations: Simple Strategies For Building Dynamic Leadership And Relationships. In this book, you’ll find five, practical parenting tips for leading well at home!

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Jed Jurchenko

Jed Jurchenko is the husband to an incredible wife, daddy to four amazing girls, and a foster dad to one more. He's served as a children's pastor, marriage and family therapist, psychology professor, award-winning writing coach, and life coach. Jed is the author of 23 books on relationships, parenting, writing, and doing life well. In his free time, you'll find Jed reading, preparing for an upcoming marathon, barbecuing, paddle boarding, and enjoying life with his incredible family. Find out more about Jed's books, coaching, and courses at www.ithrive320.com.

16 thoughts on “3 Simple Parenting Tips: How to Create Behavior Change Fast”

  1. Some great practical advice here Jed. I think I need to get better at the “hero question” because I am more to the point of saying – “good job… great for you” instead of seeming astonished. It might be borderline embellishment, but it goes a long way to building up the child. Thanks for offering these great parenting tips.

    1. Thanks Chad.

      I like your idea of acting astonished, and wouldn’t see this as embellishment at all. Our kiddos might be astonished that they completed a task on their own. Thus, our astonishment could be a way of sharing in their joy. I think this is a great idea, and bet your kids will love it too!

      By the way, one of my favorite college professors would make a big deal every time a student gave valuable input. It was amazing how well his mild astonishment, positively influenced a room full of college students. The over all engagement and participation in this course was… well, astonishing 🙂

      Thanks for the input Chad. This is good stuff!

      1. Funny and true story. My 11 YO daughter broke her doll while brushing the hair yesterday morning. This is a fairly nice doll and one that she enjoys trying various hair styles on before doing her own. I told her I would look into fixing it as soon as I could but I had a late meeting at church and would not get to it until the next day. When I get home, I see the doll with a note that says “I fixed it.” I thought to myself “This is a great opportunity to ‘do the Jed thing’ and make a big deal of it.” They I read the other side of the note and it said “not” – so this morning we talked about how we’re going to try and fix it together after a trip to the hardware store because glue simply won’t get this job done. At least I’m able to involve her in the steps and we’ll try to get it done together.

    2. I think too often parents and other leaders think (and even say), “I’m not going to reward someone for behavior they should be doing anyway. That makes it seems as if what they’re doing is an extra instead of just the expected norm.”

      While I understand this perspective from a certain angle, I would not choose or condone it. As I’m forever saying, “You always have a choice.” Even in a job, good employees who are “just doing what they’re expected to do” can choose to work someplace else. I think we could all stand to be more astonished when people choose to do what is right and good.

  2. Wonderful post Jed. I think my take away is asking my kids “How did you do that.” That is the one area I think I can do that I’m not already. When I’m giving resilience training I talk about effective praise and active constructive responding but I never thought of asking this question and reversing it. Takes a different approach but gets the same results. Usually I’m the one breaking down the steps telling them what went right.

    1. Thanks Kirby,

      I’m glad I was able to provide a new strategy. And, when you get the chance, I’d love to hear more about the resilience training that you do. This sounds like good stuff, and I’m always on the lookout for new tools and coaching strategies too.

  3. “Positive result [come] about because of a positive choice.”

    OK, sure, sure. This is about “kids.” But many adults need to be reminded of this central truth, as well: that positive choices (not fate or wishes or demands or chance) lead to positive change.

    Really, all of these principles apply to adults as well as kids, and to all leaders, not just parents.

    1. That’s so true. Whether your a parent raising kids, spouse, or corporate leader, many of the same, key leadership & relationship principles apply.

      A few years ago, I attended a Mary Kay training with my wife. I was amazed at how key concepts from behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, & choice theory, were applied to makeup sales. It was a fun training to attend. It was also exciting to see how the principles stayed the same, although the application of the principles had some unique twists for each situation 🙂

  4. Jed, This is a great list of good habits for parents to develop. I could practice these more. It’s worth noting that #2 also has aspects to it that strengthen the bond between parent and child.

    1. That’s such an important point too. I’ve been getting a lot of training in attachment theory this year, and am learning how some of the most effective behavior change comes out of relationships where there is a strong bond between parent and child. Thanks for highlighting this! That parent-child bond, really is key.

  5. Jed, I enjoyed how you labeled positive achievements as “sparkling” moments. We have recently started weaning our daughter at bedtime, and I would get so frustrated because she would have so much energy. She would climb all over my wife and I and, as a typical male, I wanted sleep. This has gone on for at least the past three nights.

    Then it hit me. She is excited she has mom and dad together and wants to show off to us! I had this moment when I made it a point to set aside an entire evening for her. We went on a walk to collect blackberries with mom, then her and I played alone for the rest.

    Her enthusiasm never waned! It was truly amazing to behold from an observational standpoint as a father. Your article has reinforced the sparkling moment theory I witnessed in our dealings tonight.

    Thanks for sharing!

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