Cait Lemieux Photography | Maternity | Family | Newborn

Parenting Hacks: The Reinforcement System!

My husband and I have been working for years with some great help from a behavioral therapist to create a positive reinforcement system that works. 

And it’s working!! 

I wanted to share what we’ve combined after much trial and error over the years in hopes that it helps some frustrated parents out there. My kids are 6 & 8 but we’ve been using this system for 2 years and could have started sooner!

Ultimately take what works for you, and leave the rest. Every family is different but this is what works for us!

1. Family Rules:

This has been huge! Establishing family rules that apply to EVERYONE – and making the shift from making the kids “wrong” to just simply stating that the action/behavior goes against the Family Rules can make all the difference.

We will often repeat the rule back, for example :

“In this family we don’t insult each other”.

Making the statement collective.

When rules are broken we have a 3 step process.

The first being a warning.

Second warning means an added chore/contribution to others in that moment – or as soon as possible if we are out.

A third warning means the removal of a privilege (dessert of screen time usually – though directly related to whats going on if possible!)


Cool Down Time (15 Minutes in room) – this is obviously dependent on age.

I remind my kids of ways to calm down during their time alone (also age dependent) and although they don’t always use them, reminding them that they have options is important.


-Snuggling a stuffed animal

-Punching Pillow


-Calming music with headphones

On a lighter note!

We have been working on positive reinforcement for a long time. It wasn’t easy to get into because we tend to mostly see what we don’t like happening and comment on that instead! But with the right tools, recognizing the kids for everything that IS working is like second nature now. We love to use a reinforcement map as a visual reminder.

Reinforcement Map:

We move along throughout the day/week when we notice and appreciate when things are working/family rules being respected. We laminated our sheet then used little Velcros from Dollarama. The kids are old enough to decide with me what they think should be recognized on the board. I will show a list we made together of some of the things that we recognize them for but things come up all the time in the moment. These just help set some expectations.

Last but not least the REWARDS!

The important thing is to get the kids involved in creating the rewards so that they are excited about earning them! We even have a card that is a “make up a privilege card” and they love making them up as we go.

Not all privileges are created equal – so we created a system of 1 tour around the map= small privilege or save 3x around the map = BIG privilege.

All of these templates pictured here as examples were created in a few minutes using The kids LOVE sitting with me and choosing the fonts/images to include.

Feel free to use, or be inspired by my attached examples. 


Sending you all lots of LOVE and SUPPORT.

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