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Family Activities
Building Positive Behaviors

Building positive social and emotional behaviors takes practice, time, and patience. Children learn by watching, listening, and then imitating. To change a specific behavior that may need redirecting: First, identify possible reasons why your child is not behaving appropriately, and then determine the correct way that your child should act. Second, identify small steps for your child to see and learn and then to have fun with as he or she practices positive behaviors. After your child has successfully shown the desired positive behavior, make sure you reward your child. Have fun!


  • Small jar, box, or other container of any shape
  • Pennies
  • Paper, crayons/markers, and glue
  1. Talk with your child about behaviors that could use a makeover, such as not biting others, putting away toys, or waiting his or her turn (to talk, to swing on the playground, to buy a ticket in line, etc.).
  2. Have each child choose just one behavior to change at a time. Tell the child that he or she will mark progress with the container and the pennies. Use the paper, crayons/markers, and glue to decorate the container. 
  3. Make a simple weekly plan for change for the family. Every time your child exhibits self-control in the “work-in-progress” behavior, he or she gets to put one penny in the container.
  4. Join in the game, and suggest some of your own behaviors that you would like to change (eat more healthy foods, get more exercise, read more). Your involvement not only underscores the importance of making such changes but also teaches your child that change and changing behavior does not stop when he or she become adults.
  5. Use those pennies, when the container is full, toward some agreed-upon family treat, such as getting ice cream or watching a special family movie together.
  6. Remember to focus on positive reinforcement to help modify positive behavior. Positive reinforcement is powerful and almost always more effective than negative reinforcement with children. 

Building Positive Behaviors

Week: _____________________________________________________________

Why (triggers of negative behavior): _________________________________

Target Behavior: _______________________________________________

Adjustment: ___________________________________________________

Reward: __________________________________________________________

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Updated on 3/22/2014