Category Archives: Help and information

Disability Innovations: An orchestra trying new things

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We are having a tech fortnight to focus on technology, including guest bloggers, like Rebecca. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

What is Able Orchestra?

The Able Orchestra is a project in which young people with varied needs and abilities, collaborate with professional artists in order to create extraordinary live performances. Creating multi-sensory experiences for audiences, the collective adapt the use of technologies, to help realise innovative methods for people to perform audio-visual content.

Started and developed by members of the County Youth Arts Team in Nottinghamshire, the project works with various groups and organisations to achieve their performances. Over an intensive period of days, artists Si Tew, Rebecca Smith, Ronika and Angus Mcleod work alongside groups, to create all component parts of the content.

How does it work?

Using recorded sounds and visuals from the young people’s environment, rich textures of material are captured, layered and further manipulated. Using software such as Ableton Live, Resolume, Quartz Composer and Madmapper, audio-visual aspects of the performance can be triggered, manipulated and even created live. “We may take something as simple as a bleep from the young persons wheelchair, or the sound of them dropping sticks from outside. But we then take that source material, and further work with it, to create something truly unique and with its own identity” – Si Tew, Artist.

The use of ipads with midi-controller apps such as Lemur, permit custom controlled instruments to be built. Light beams, physical pads, button, dials and a host of accessibility options allow for adaptive control of the content, regardless of the user’s mobility, movement or dexterity. “Our aim is to help enable freedom of expression through means that the young people may not have experienced before. Over the course of the sessions, we develop and create digital interfaces, to enable those with the most profound disabilities to contribute equally” – Rebecca Smith, Artist.

Always looking to push creative possibilities, the group have recently collaborated with musicians from the BBC Concert Orchestra to create a mixed traditional and electronic live performance, with behind the scenes footage available. “It’s a really exciting and new experience. This is my first real experience of music and it turns out you don’t need to actually play an instrument.” – Jessica Fisher, Participant.

The possibilities are endless

The collective are currently in the process of experimenting with new devices and processes to further enhance their work. These include wearable technologies, conductive paint and the live manipulation of scents to create a fully sensory experience . “We simply use the technology in order to make high quality, (sometimes complex) processes, very accessible, hands-on and expressive. Most importantly, it must always be fun and leave a smile on our face” – Rebecca Smith.

Discuss technology on our community.

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

Disability Innovation: A brief history of my Communication Aids

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We are having a tech fortnight to focus on technology and hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field. In this post we hear from Simon, and his journey to the right communication aid. You can ask Simon questions about technology on our online community.

 Since I was eight years old, I have used online keyboards with a chin or head switch and operated various on screen keyboards.

When I was about ten, I had a BBC computer with a program called Beeblink. In those days, there was no word prediction as we know it. This program had a word bank. How it worked was if I wanted a word beginning with ‘E’, I would select the letter ‘E’ and go into the word bank with words beginning with that letter. Then hope the word I wanted was there for me to select. This was long winded because of how it worked.

The advent of the personal computer came and so did on screen keyboards. Word prediction was introduced as well which made typing much quicker.

Windows, on screen keyboards and word prediction

The Windows operating system came along and on screen keyboards evolved. For many years, I used a piece of software called EZ Keys. This was a really good package as it gave me full control of the computer using a head switch. It had word prediction and I could set up my own abbreviations as well. For example, if I typed ASAP, it would type “as soon as possible”. EZ Keys also had a facility for me to use the mouse which was really useful and this software package was also on my communication aid.

When I obtained my first communication aid, it was really amazing because I could drive up to people and have a chat. This was before Windows so it looked basic compared to the communication systems today. It gave me a huge sense of independence as I was in total control of who I chose to talk to. Since Windows has been developed, I have had a number of communication aids with EZ Keys on and they were great because they were like mini computers. This meant I could also do my college work on them, which gave me a lot more flexibility as to how I could conduct my affairs.

About eight years ago, I wanted to try something different so I obtained a Lightwriter, operated by a head switch. It was nice and small but I did not like how it scanned. For example, it had a ‘QWERTY’ keyboard and if I wanted a letter at the end of the row, it took ages to scan to it. However with EZ Keys, the rows were shorter which meant it took less time to get to the desired letters.

Finding EyeGaze

Four years ago, I was getting fed up with my typing speed because I was typing about two words a minute, so I contacted someone I know who works in Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC). He told me that he was working for a company called Tobii who makes communication aids which operate with eye gaze software. I had previously had trials with eye gaze technology but he advised me that it had changed since then and that this system accommodated movement of the head. I instantly said I would like to have a go and I had a two week trial of it and I found I was typing quicker. At the end of the trial, I did not want to let it go back.

I definitely wanted one so I approached a charity for some funding and within about a year, I received a Tobii and I was really happy. Tobii has a piece of software called Communicator which has facilities such as mobile phone, email and writing documents; each of these functions has a different page set. A page set consists of pages with buttons on. For instance, a page set for email would have buttons such as “compose email”, “select receiver” and “send email”. I can customise those buttons and where they are on the screen to suit my needs and way of working.

Having Tobii has changed my life because I can talk to whoever I want to and they do not need to have knowledge about how to use my communication aid. Since I have had my Tobii, I find it much easier to conduct my life. Tobii also allows me to text people as well which is great because I can keep in touch with friends and family easily.

The Communicator software is a very adaptable package. People at all levels can use it. People can create vocabulary page sets with symbols on and even whole phrases on. People can be really creative with it.

In conclusion, I have been lucky to have been born at the right time to take advantage of technology – I could not live without it.

Talk to Simon on our online community.

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

Disability Innovations: Six apps we can’t live without

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We are having a tech fortnight to focus on technology, including guest bloggers, like Sharon. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

In October 2011 I had a serious motorbike accident, 18 broken bones, cardiac arrest (twice), coma for a month and hospital for six months. Diagnosed with a severe traumatic brain injury amongst other physical conditions, my family and I are like other people living with a neurological condition and slowly coming to terms with a dramatic change in lifestyle.

In October 2014 we released the first issue of Health is Your Wealth magazine. This was created because although we understand there are many neurological conditions they tend to have similar challenges which can affect independence. The magazine is available electronically for free and is particularly suitable for people who have visual or co-ordination issues because they can zoom in on the text and turn pages easily.

The magazine is split into six sections and formatted so it can be easily read, lends itself to audio listening and is colour coded so the publication is easy to navigate. Amongst other articles each issue has a review of mobile phone, tablet and PC applications. The following are our top rated applications which are all free and can aid independence; we hope you will find them useful.

  1. SwiftKey Keyboard

 What does it claim to do?

Allows you to type quicker and easier. Especially good for people with co-ordination issues and impaired speed or performance

How friendly is it?

Easy and quick to install, however you may need to power off your phone and turn it back on

What phone or system is it compatible with?

Android, Apple iPhones and tablets

Review of application and rating

We give this a five star rating. One of those pieces of technology you wondered how you did without!

  1. Google calendar

What does it claim to do?

Helps you to remember what to do and when. Gives you reminders and lets you plan your day, week or month. You can see your schedule at a glance with photos and maps of the places you’re going, quickly create events all calendars on your phone in one place.

How friendly is it?

Very easy to use and quick once you know where things are. The interface is simple and straight forward to learn.

What phone or system is it compatible with?

Android and Apple iPhones

Review of application and rating

We give this a five star rating. Without this tool we would be unable to function.

  1. Evernote

What does it claim to do?

Allows you to jot notes down and carry them wherever you are. You can also to-do’s and checklists, attach files and search through your notes easily.

How friendly is it?

Easy to get started plus has lots of features that are inherent but the interface is so simple that if you want to use it just as a note taker then it works beautifully.

What phone or system is it compatible with?

Android and Apple iPhones

Review of application and rating

We give this a five star rating. If you are unable to write this application combined with Swiftkey keyboard will keep you organised and in control!

  1. Medisafe

What does it claim to do?

Helps make sure you take the right quantity and dosage of medicines at the right time. It also allows you to determine the shape and colour of the pill rather than know them by medical name.

How friendly is it?

Easy to get started and intuitive plus has most medicines already built in!

What phone or system is it compatible with?

Android and Apple iPhones

Review of application and rating

We give this a five star rating. It’s awesome and is appropriate for various age ranges.

  1. Smart Recipes

What does it claim to do?

Gets you eating well balanced food, through existing recipes and a meal mixer option. Encourages you to follow simple instructions and has a shopping list function.

How friendly is it?

Extremely friendly.  The recipes are well explained. Detailing which ingredients you need, how long you will need to prepare and cook for plus what utensils are required.

What phone or system is it compatible with?

Available on Apple Store and Google Play

Review of application and rating

We give this a five star rating. It’s very good, simple to use and fun.

  1. Block Puzzle

What does it claim to do?

Helps to maintain or improve your logic and problem solving skills plus it’s fun! You have to fill the board by dragging different shaped blocks into the correct place to make a single larger shape, there are different modes and difficulty levels to try.

How friendly is it?

Block Puzzle is incredibly intuitive and fun for all ages and skill levels. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll be hooked!

What phone or system is it compatible with?

Available on Apple Store and Google Play

What does it cost?

Block Puzzle is amazing value, packed with over 6000 free mind-bending levels of increasing difficulty that’ll keep you busy for hours.

Review of application and rating

We give this a 5 star rating. It’s very good, simple to use and fun.

The magazine is released bi-monthly, starting in February and is distributed to major hospitals. To get the next issue free! go to the Health is your wealth website. Please note Health is Your Wealth magazine magazine is now formatted to work with the Adobe read aloud feature.

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

Got a question about technology? Join our Q&A about assistive technology

Disability Innovations: Sounds like an innovation in hearing aids

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We are having a tech fortnight to focus on technology, including guest bloggers, like Margie. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

Margie is the Empowerment Officer at Scope and here she tells us about her favourite new piece of technology that makes hearing a more effortless experience for her.

How I found Resound Lynx2

Back in June of this year a friend bought to my attention the Resound Lynx 2 hearing aids that work through your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.

I have to admit I’m a bit of an Apple fan so had to check this one out. Having worn NHS hearing aids since 2006 (which are free). I was somewhat shocked to find out that the cost for each hearing aid was £1600, but the private audiologist said I could try them for two weeks to see how I got on with them.

What are they like?

As soon as they were digitally tuned in to my particular needs, I was hooked. The clarity was amazing: using the app on your iPhone you have full control to suit your environment; you can reduce background interference such as air conditioning or wind: adjust tone for bass and treble; and control volume .

You can also produce settings for your own preference such as TV, music concerts and so on. Apart from all this when your phone rings it goes straight to your ears via Bluetooth linking- no more struggling to hear it ring! You can also use it to listen to your music, catch up on TV, films and any other sound though your apps and iPhone. Mind blowing!

Why I like them

I love them and they have made such a difference to my working life, hearing all that’s going on instead of missing all the gossip. It means life in general has a new clearer outlook. You can find out more at– it’s worth a try!

Have you tried this new equipment, or something similar by an alternative provider? If so we’d love to hear about it. Comment below or join our community to share your thoughts with others.

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

(Photography by istock 2015, featuring models)

Tips for a stress-free Halloween and bonfire night

The nights are drawing in, which means Halloween and Bonfire night are almost upon us. For some disabled children, it can be quite a stressful time of year, so we’ve put together some top tips from our online community.  

Be prepared

Have a calendar, and count down the days to Halloween with your child. If they like knowing as much as possible about everything, it can be really helpful for them to learn lots of facts about Halloween such as where it originated from, and why it is still celebrated today.

Any day can be Halloween!

My daughter gets scared of the costumes at Halloween, so I encourage her to dress up at any time of the year to help her understand about costumes and that dressing up doesn’t change the person underneath the outfit.

Gauge your child’s reactions

Always keep an eye on how your child is handling the situation, whether it’s Halloween or fireworks. Even if you have prepared for every possible scenario, they may still have a difficult time engaging in activities. Pay attention to their cues and if it’s all too much, it may be best to remove them from the situation and go home.

Distract with snacks and games

Familiar toys, games and snacks can provide comfort and distraction from over-stimulating sights, sounds and smells. These favourites can also come in handy if your child gets anxious while waiting for the fireworks to start.

Wheelchair friendly pumpkin

Daisy can’t go out but she loves to answer the door in costume and hand out sweets. Last year we carved a wheelchair symbol into her pumpkin.

Knowing what to expect

Whatever you’re planning this bonfire night, make sure your child knows what to expect. If your child responds to visual cues, try showing them a video of fireworks (with the volume turned down at first). Although it’s important they know what to expect, try not to go overboard. Sometimes too much anticipation can be just as overwhelming.

Lead by example

If you’re calm, your child is more likely to stay calm. If you start getting anxious, they are more likely to pick up on your cues.

Keep your clothes on

Some children with sensory issues may not like the feel of costumes – a lot of them can be quite synthetic and scratchy. Try letting them leave their own clothes on – or pyjamas – underneath.

Wheels of pumpkins

I have seen some great designs on Google. Sadly, I am somewhat lacking in the artistic skills department so I will be keeping it simple by turning the wheels on my daughter’s chair into giant pumpkins!

Keep your distance

View firework displays from a distance. There’s no reason you have to be right up close. Most displays are better viewed from a distance. Stand away from the crowds. If you are having fireworks at home, let your child watch from indoors where it is warm and they can enjoy the display without the loud noises.

Use headphones

A set of headphones can help block out loud noise and reduce the anxiety that people with sensory issues experience around fireworks. You could even play soothing music through them.

Let your child take the lead

Don’t force your child into participating in Halloween. Let them engage with it however they want to and at their own pace. They may never want to take part, and planning a different activity to do on that day and evening could be a much happier and calmer experience for all involved

Alternative mask

If your child doesn’t want to wear a masks try giving them one on a stick that they can hold in front of their face as and when they want to.

Adapt your child’s own clothes

If your child doesn’t like wearing an unfamiliar costume, make one using their own clothes, so they feel more comfortable. For example, take old leggings and a T-shirt and tear them to make a zombie costume.

These tips were all contributed by parents of disabled children. Find more great tips like these, and share your own on Scope’s online community.

Helping with the extra costs of disability: our new money information hub

Following the Extra Costs Commission, a year-long independent inquiry into the extra costs faced by disabled people, we’ve been working with the Money Advice Service to develop the information on our website so it has a greater focus on the needs of disabled people as consumers.

The Extra Costs Commission found that disability-specific information can be hard to find on the web unless you know it exists. As a result, we’ve created a new area of our website to provide impartial money management and cost cutting advice to disabled people.

We hope that this new hub helps to filter useful information and that our online community offers a space for disabled consumers to share shopping experiences and tips.

Extra costs of disability

On average, life costs you £550 more a month if you’re disabled. These costs make it harder to save and increase the likelihood of falling into debt. Here’s how our new hub can help:

Managing your money

To help manage the extra costs of disability, here are a few positive steps you can take:

Bank accounts, credit cards and loans

As well as free and impartial money advice, our new money section features video guides on how to choose a bank account and access to online tools that can help you compare prices.

Savvy disabled consumers

We’ve also got money saving tips on a range of consumer issues, including:

Visit our money hub to find out more, or share your own money saving tips on our online community.

Disability Innovations: The next generation of tableware

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

What is “Staybowl”?

Staybowl is a bowl that will not tip when in use. The same technology can be used to adapt many other items, including your own tableware so that they too become stable and cannot tip. Staybowl can be used on any surface, including a tablecloth and has not only been designed to be very functional, it also looks great.

What’s the story behind it?

Malcolm and Loretta Rhodes have a daughter, Michela, who has Cerebral Palsy affecting her manual dexterity and fine motor skills.  This means she often has difficulties when eating independently.

Malcolm attended a Scope focus group to discuss what items parents and carers of disabled people would like to see readily available at stores such as IKEA. He discovered many other people had the same challenge as Michela, and would love to see a bowl that would not tip, thereby making eating independently a lot easier and safer for many people.

Currently available products were discussed (such as suction cup bowls and skirt bowls) but everyone agreed these had limitations and something new was needed.

How does it work?

The challenge was to design a bowl that was functional but would not stand out as a bowl for disabled people and actually looked great.

As parents, Malcolm and Loretta had vast experience of bringing up a disabled child to adulthood so fully understood the needs of the potential users.

They decided to fix the bowl to another object that itself could not be tipped. The way to do it was to use the same mechanism as that found on a food processor, by simply engaging the two parts and turning slightly to lock them together. They become, temporarily, a single item. It was also decided to embed the bottom part of the mechanism into a place mat.

The reason this makes the bowl untippable is that the edge of the place mat is either at or beyond the edge of the bowl as in the below diagrams.

The next day the first prototype was produced using a porcelain bowl, a mechanism made from a Thermos flask cup and a standard place mat. It worked, the bowl would not tip.

With the support of Innovate UK, Malcolm worked with a local product designer, who using CAD and 3D printing produced a working model of the mechanism to be used.

A CAD prototype was produced of a place mat incorporating the bottom half of the mechanism, and a bowl incorporating the top half of the mechanism. This proved that the product could be both useful and stylish. Further prototypes were developed in response to testing, including improving the portability of the product.

The finished prototype even allows you to use your own tableware on the base.

What is the potential?

With research and development complete Malcolm is now looking at how to take the product to market, including discussions with major distributors. But it is also an opportunity to get involved with Staybowl at the early stages, as they seek business partners and investors. Malcolm is also looking for people who can understand and make use of the product. If you fall into either, or both of these groups then contact us at and we can put you in touch with Malcolm directly to find out more.

What we like about it

What we like about Stay Bowl is that Malcolm heard a problem, direct from potential users, and went away and solved it simply and effectively. Keeping in mind a design that people would actually want to use – not sacrificing aesthetics for practicality. Fingers crossed you’ll see it on the market soon.

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

15 ways to search for jobs using social media

Future Ambitions is a brand new service aimed at supporting young disabled people aged 16 to 25 in Hackney, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets into long-term sustainable employment. Here are their tips to search for jobs online and using social media:

1) Ask your friends
Post a simple, polite, professional status asking if anyone knows of a place that is hiring. You may even want to be a more specific about your needs. Ask if anyone knows of an open position in the area you want to work in. Chances are that at least one person knows about a potential job opportunity. Even better, you may have someone ask for an interview right then and there!

2) Search
Put jobs into the Google or a company’s search box and see what comes up!

3) Like company Facebook pages
What are your interests? Like pages of companies you’d like to work for. They will often post their jobs on Facebook as it’s cheaper than traditional advertising.

4) Follow companies on Twitter
Follow companies you might want to work for. They may post links to their jobs on their Twitter feeds.

5) Search hashtags
#job is a good way to see jobs posted on Twitter or Facebook, you might need to narrow down the search to UK or local area only #job

It’s best to search Twitter at times when local companies would be posting jobs, for example, 9am -5pm.

6) Job search on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is like an online CV so follow the same rules:
• Be clear with your objectives in your personal profile
• List your most recent job or training first
• Be professional
• Be honest

8) Follow companies on LinkedIn
You can also follow a company on LinkedIn, meaning all the jobs they advertise come up in your news feed.

9) Be consistent online
Use your real name on social media, keep a consistent tone and think of it as your personal empire. Of course your Facebook ‘About’ will be different from your LinkedIn profile description. If you keep the general tone similar, you’ll look in control.

10) Google yourself
A bit obvious this one, but don’t just check the first page. Beady-eyed employers will go a few pages back.

11) Request your Twitter archive
Go into your Settings. Click the Account tab. You can find how to request an archive containing all the tweets you’ve ever sent. Check over the last two years. Use programs like Tweet Eraser to search for the offending tweets.

12) Find hidden vacancies
Many employers will fill vacancies by word-of-mouth, headhunting or recruiting internally. Knowing how to get yourself in contention for these roles could give you a major boost in finding your next role.

13) Use your network
Using your network is the other main way to find hidden positions. Past employers, colleagues, friends, family and just about anyone you meet can form your network. Serious jobseekers treat even the most casual of meetings as a potential job lead.

14) Make prospective calls
Even if an employer doesn’t have any current vacancies, they may be willing to create a position if an exceptional applicant comes along. Contact companies to ask if they have any opportunities for somebody with your skills. Call the manager of the department you’re looking to work in but avoid busy times. Follow up with an email, thanking them for their time and attach a copy of your CV.

15) Contact us
Future Ambitions is supported by the Credit Suisse EMEA Foundation. For more information, call 07807 799 928 or email

Future Ambitions: Getting young disabled people into work

Guy Chaudoir is Service Manager for Scope’s Future Ambitions Service. Guy has been at Scope for three years and has spent the last eight years working with young people to support them in employment and apprenticeships.

I was recently asked by a prospective employee in an interview what the best thing about my job was, for me it was an easy question to answer. The best thing about my job is seeing the progress a young disabled person makes when we work with them to achieve their goals.

I run a new service for Scope, called Future Ambitions, the service is supported by the Credit Suisse EMEA Foundation and its goal is to support young disabled people into paid work.

The difficulties disabled people face

Young disabled people tell us that they find it difficult to tell people about their disability, so they get the right support to stay in a job. They also tell us that it is a crowded market and if you don’t fit exactly to what an employer is looking for, then you don’t even get an interview or an acknowledgement that you’ve actually applied.

No one loves filling in an application form, writing a cover letter or having a job interview, what we aim to do is work with young disabled people to be able to do this, so they can get a job they love.

But it’s not just about the practical parts of finding a job, each person that joins our service gets support from their own advisor to work on what they need to gain employment, be it support to improve confidence or time management, work experience in a field they are interested, interview skills, how to disclose their disability to an employer and support at interviews.

Working with employers

We also work with Employers, supporting them to recruit and retain young disabled people in their workplace. Along with introducing them to candidates that might not have exactly the right qualifications and experience, but with the right support from us, will thrive and grow with their business.

As I said before the best thing about my job is seeing the progress in the young people we work with, and I looking forward to seeing that happen again and again.

Find out more about Future Ambitions on our website  or email

Future Ambitions is for disabled residents of Hackney, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets aged 16-25 who aren’t currently in employment or education.

Descriptive praise – how to get your child to cooperate!

This is a guest blog from Noel Janis-Norton, our online community’s parenting advisor. Here she explains how to use a technique called ‘descriptive praise’ to get your child to cooperate. 

One of the most frustrating things about being a parent is the endless repeating and reminding, just to get our children to do what they’re told. In the heat of the moment it’s easy to forget that children aren’t born knowing that they’re supposed to do what we tell them to do. Cooperation is a habit that they need to learn.

Mum and dad playing at a table with their young disabled daughter

My definition of cooperation is that our children do what we ask them to do the first time we ask, and without a fuss. Thankfully, it’s never too late to guide children and teens into the habit of cooperating. Of course children aren’t robots, so they’ll never be perfect. But it really is possible for children and teens to get into the habit of cooperating 90% of the time. That’s what the programme I’ve developed – Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, can help you achieve.

If your children tend to ignore your instructions, or if they argue or say “in a minute,” a good question to ask yourself is, “how can I motivate them to want to cooperate?” You’ve probably noticed that threats and telling off don’t actually motivate, but luckily there are more effective ways. One useful technique is descriptive praise. This is the most powerful motivator I’ve ever come across.

Two young brothers and their sister playing with multi-coloured plastic bricks

Descriptive praise is the opposite of how we usually praise.  Generally, we try to encourage good behaviour by using lots of superlatives: “Terrific!”, “Wow!”, “Brilliant!”, “Amazing!” But superlative praise is so vague and exaggerated that the child is often unclear about what was so great.

Descriptive praise is far more effective. Just describe exactly what your child did right or exactly what they didn’t do wrong, being very specific:

“You did what I asked the first time. You’re cooperating.”

“You didn’t say “In a minute”. I asked you to set the table, and you did it straightaway, without any complaining.”

Mum kneeling on the floor hugging her son

In my book, Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting, a mother explains how descriptive praise motivated her six and eight-year-old sons to become more cooperative:

“The day after Noël’s seminar, I told my boys to wash their hands for dinner. The younger one hopped up to do what I said. I jumped in with descriptive praise, saying “You’re a first-time listener.” As soon as I said this, his older brother got up, saying “I’m a first-time listener too”, and rushed off to wash his hands. I hadn’t expected my words to have such an effect. The next day my six-year-old washed his hands and came to the table, saying “Look Mum, I’m a no-time listener because I did it before you even asked!”

When you make a point of mentioning each time your children do what you ask the first time, soon they will be cooperating more and more. You can use this strategy to improve any behaviour that’s problematic.  Descriptive praise brings out the best in children, even in teenagers!

In this short blog I can only scratch the surface of this useful parenting tool, so you’re bound to have questions. In my CD called Descriptive Praise, The #1 Motivator, I answer all the questions parents have about putting descriptive praise into practice, and give lots of examples you can use to improve a wide range of family issues.

Dad mixing cake mixture in a bowl with his young daughter with cerebral palsy

As important as descriptive praise is, it’s not the only strategy you’ll need to bring out the best behaviour in your children and teens. But it’s the first strategy. So for the next four weeks, take the Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting challenge and start using descriptive praise whenever you notice your children doing something right or even any tiny improvement. You’ll see positive results sooner than you can imagine.

Got a question for Noel? Ask her on our online community