(ABC News) -- All too often, parents who hope to curb bad behavior in their children do so with criticism, but Jeannette Kaplun decided to try a different approach: She praised her two children for what they did right and refrained from pointing out what they did wrong.
Kaplun, the founder of Hispana Global, admitted that it wasn’t easy.
“Your first impulse is to really keep complaining ... keep yelling or just criticizing, in general,” the Miami, Florida, woman said.
Kaplun said she couldn’t have anticipated the reactions of her children, 11-year-old Michael and 8-year-old Sophia.
“They started actually behaving even better,” she said.
She realized that the more that she acknowledged them for doing well, the more they seemed to want more of that praise, “instead of all the anger or the disappointment that they'll get from you whenever they're misbehaving,” she said.
In a blog published last week on the website Babble.com, Kaplun wrote: “After two months of making a conscious effort at positive reinforcement, all I can say is that it really does work. Heartfelt words and a simple smile work wonders. Now my kids seem to compete against each other to do more great things and make me happy. It’s quite funny, too. They actually want to help me and feel proud when I call them out in front of friends and family.”
But others, including TheStir.com editor Ericka Souter, say parenting requires more of a balance between the carrot and the stick.
“You do need to let them know when they've done something wonderful, you also need to let them know when they've done something that you're not going to tolerate,” Souter said.
Kaplun agreed, saying there are times when she has to draw the line.
“If there are insults or if there's hitting, that won't be allowed,” she said.
Much to her children’s delight, Kaplun planned to continue her no-negativity policy.
“She makes me feel proud of myself,” Kaplun’s daughter said.
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