Fostering and Promoting Positive Behaviors
We love to hear from parents of the positive behaviors that their son(s) have acquired at camp. Behaviors range from increased responsibility around the house, to an uptick in social awareness, or a willingness to inform parents of successes and struggles they are facing. Many times changes are a result of behaviors that are consistently promoted during the summer. They happen because counselors create an atmosphere where boys see the value in acting in a manner in which they are not accustomed and by repeating the behavior until it becomes habit.
As the weeks and months pass and the Winnebago summer fades, it is important to continue to recognize and reinforce positive behaviors from campers by employing a few strategies that we use at camp. These interventions can be generalized and used for any behavior that you are hoping to preserve or increase in your child.
- Counselors are encouraged to focus on positive behaviors instead of problematic behaviors. Often times, our attention is drawn to what we do not like instead of what we like. Instead of stating, “You used to make your bed every morning when you returned from camp, but you only do it once in a while now.” Wait for your son to make his bed and then let him know you noticed and appreciate it.
- Name the behavior; state why it is laudable and why it may be useful in the future. For example, “When your brother fell and hurt himself you immediately checked in with him to make sure he was OK. That was really empathetic of you; you showed that you cared about how he felt. People are really going to want to be your friend because you are so kind.”
- Set clear and achievable expectations of your children.In establishing a healthy bunk at camp, counselors are encouraged to have a meeting with all the campers in their bunk. During this meeting they allow the campers to create the rules under which their community will function. By bringing the campers into the process they feel like they are living by their own rules instead of being subjected to external forces.
Overall, it is important to remember that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Creating an atmosphere where positive behaviors are praised is an excellent strategy in reducing negative behaviors.