This Behavior Modification strategy enables the child to know the expectations for his/her behavior and helps you to maintain consistent positive/negative reinforcement.
Short, Soft and Close: Delivering Effective Reprimands
There are three key parts of an effective reprimand; short, soft, and close. When used correctly, reprimands can serve to alter behavior without encountering an angry confrontation.
• Short—The reprimand should consist of the child’s name and one or two additional
words of direction such as, “Mike, stop yelling.”
• Soft—The reprimand should be audible only to the child. This serves to keep the
adults’ emotions in check and helps to lower the dynamic of the confrontation.
• Close—The reprimand should be delivered from within a few feet of the child,
preferably within reach of the child. A soft touch on the arm or shoulder will prove
to make the reprimand much more effective than will shouting it from the next
room. The child will have your full attention and will be more likely to stop the
Finally, after the reprimand is delivered and the targeted behavior has stopped, try to catch the child doing something good within the next few minutes. Praise him/her for positive behavior in order to reinforce desired, appropriate behavior.
Working with children produces greater effects when we build on the positives and not the negatives. Children are eager to please, yet adults often only point out when a child has misbehaved. Children with ODD are used to hearing about all of their negative characteristics. By creating as many opportunities for positive reinforcement as possible, we set up ways for the child to experience the positive feelings associated with cooperation and praise. As a general rule, each day children should hear more positive than negative comments about themselves.
Arnold, D. S., O'Leary, S. G., Wolff, L. S., & Acker, M. M. (1993). The Parenting Scale: A measure of dysfunctional parenting in discipline situations.Psychological assessment, 5(2), 137.
O'Leary, D. K., Kaufman, K. F., Kass, R. E., & Drabbman, R. S. (1970). The effects of loud and soft reprimands on the behavior of disruptive students. Exceptional Children, 2, 145-155.