Encourage Positive Behavior Through Special Playtime with Your Kids

If you have been following this blog for a while you may already know that I have a very challenging four year old daughter. Ciara is smart and sweet but she can also be defiant, destructive and a little bully. I’ve tried different parenting and disciplinary methods with her but most of them do not work.

Currently I am getting help from a behavioral specialist from UC Davis. Once a week a lady from their CAARE Center comes out to our home and teaches me parenting strategies to help deal with these problem behaviors. Recently I started a new program with my daughter called, PCIT (Parent-Child Interaction Therapy).

During these therapy sessions I have to play with my child while practicing what they call PRIDE skills (Praise, Reflect, Imitate, Describe, and Enthusiasm). Every day I have to play with her using what we call, “Special Playtime Toys” while using these skills.

Praising your child will cause good behavior to increase, let your child know what you like, increases your child’s self-esteem, adds to warmth of the relationship, and makes both the parent and child feel good. Examples of praise include, “That’s terrific counting!” “I like the way you’re playing so quietly, and You have wonderful ideas for this picture.” Some parents are good at praising their children but they don’t know how to use a labeled praise. You can praise your child by simply saying, “Good job!” But if your child doesn’t know what the good job was for he may not continue the good behavior. A better approach would be saying, “Good job picking up all the toys!”

Reflecting your child’s behavior allows the child to direct the conversation, shows him that you’re really listening, demonstrates acceptance and understanding of your child, and improves her speech while increasing verbal communication. A good example of reflecting statements are:

Child: I made a star
Parent: Yes, you made a star

Child: The camel got bumps on top.
Parent: It has two humps on it’s back.

I am having a difficult time developing this skill. When I play with Ciara I sometimes forget to reflect on what she is saying.

Imitating your child lets your child lead, approves your child’s choice of play, shows her that you are involved, teaches her how to play with others, and tends to increase your child’s imitation of what you do. Below are a couple of examples of imitation.

Child: I’m putting baby to bed.
Parent: I’ll put sister to bed, too.

Child: I’m making a sun in the sky.
Parent: I’m going to put a sun in my picture, too.

This is another skill that I need a little more practice on.

Describing your child’s appropriate behavior allows him to lead, shows him that you’re interested, teaches concepts, models speech, holds his attention, and organizes his thoughts about play. For example you can use descriptive sentences like these while playing with your child, “That’s a red block. You’re making a tower. You drew a smiling face. The cowboy looks happy.” I was also told to pretend you are a reporter and you are reporting the news of what your child is doing. This skill came pretty natural to me once I thought of it in that manner.

Using enthusiasm while playing with your child demonstrates interest in the child, models appropriate positive emotions, supports positive statements and strengthens a positive relationship. This is another skill that I found I need more practice on.
68 Piece Foam Wood Grain Building Blocks

I also learned that some toys may not be appropriate for PCIT play time with my child. You should use toys that encourage your child to use his hands and imagination. Building toys, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, Dollhouses with miniature people, train sets and play food are great toys to use in PCIT. I went out and visited our local Good Will store to find some of these toys. Then I washed them with a little bit of bleach and warm water and put them in shoebox sized plastic totes. These are her “special toys” which are only used for “special playtime.” I set them aside out of Ciara’s sight and reach.
Caring Corners Mrs. Goodbee Interactive Dollhouse

I have been practicing PCIT with Ciara for less than a week and I am already noticing an improvement in her behavior. Do you play with your children? What have you done to encourage your children to behave positively?

0/5 (0 Reviews)
Can't view this article? Join the Healthy Moms Mag Community to read this article and all content for members only.

Create a Free Account 


Subscribe to Our Premium Content

Do you want to contribute to our magazine?
Write for us or submit a guest post. Discuss in the Hangout

Enter your email address:


  1. nothingprofound April 27, 2010
  2. Kristie April 27, 2010
  3. Cascia April 27, 2010
  4. Audrey April 27, 2010
  5. Muthering Heights April 28, 2010
  6. Dorothy April 28, 2010
  7. blueviolet April 28, 2010
  8. Amy June 4, 2010
  9. Ashley M. June 3, 2011

Leave a Reply