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Increase Good Behavior: Be a Good “Boss"

By Amanda McLean, Ph.D., Supervising Psychologist and Assistant Training Director,
Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health​

A big part of "catching them being good" is being a good "boss." After all, a good boss notices and rewards employees for their achievements rather than simply pointing out their faults and failures. Consider the following points and how they relate to your parenting strategies going forward.

Why should I praise my child for things that they are supposed to do?

  • Try to identify your experience with different bosses:  We have all had "good" and "bad" bosses. 
  • The "bad" boss tends to be strict.  He/she may be consistent about pointing out your mistakes and providing high rates of critical and corrective feedback while providing little to no acknowledgement of your efforts to complete work, work hard, and follow the company rules. 
  • On the other hand, the "good" boss may also have high expectations, however, he/she provides high rates of positive feedback and consistently recognizes the things you do well and the amount of effort you put forth.  He/she may also reward your efforts with public praise and extra time off.  This is the type of boss that you yourself would like to imitate, because he/she is a good role model!   
  • Being a "good" boss to your child makes you someone that your child wants to please.  You become an authority figure that motivates your child and encourages your child to do their best.  In addition, when your child engages in misbehavior, they are more motivated to correct their future behavior given that they want to please you.  Praise and acknowledgement often encourage feelings of appreciation and approval – feelings that increase a person's motivation to work hard!
  • Just as praise from a boss can build a positive relationship with employees, praising your children improves family relationships as well as child behavior.  And being a good boss means that you are also setting a good example for your child.