Positive and negative reinforcement on Behavior

Children can be a handful but getting them to affect certain behavioral changes seemed almost impossible at least until Pavlor and his experiment; today both parents and teachers are quite familiar with Pavlov’s experiment or at least the essentials of the same. And of course, there are the various parent self-help books which base their advice on the same but the point is that with the help of positive and negative reinforcement it is possible to modify a person’s behavior in the long term. There are various ways and means by which you can get your kid to listen to you, to modify his behavior accordingly. When it comes to behavior modification, there are at least four types – positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment.

So let’s take a closer look at positive and negative reinforcement, shall we?

Positive and negative reinforcement on Behavior

Positive reinforcement on behavior

There’s positive reinforcement and then, there’s positive punishment; essentially you are trying to condition and modify the behavior of a child and often using this methodology, you should be able to do just that. Just check out these various examples, to get a better read on it. But essentially, you are either praising him or giving him a congratulatory backslap as a way to indicate that he had behaved extremely well. All of this only serves to reinforce good behavior on his part. Check out these examples –

  • Your kid manages to pick up all his toys, puts them in the corner, and then moves on to pick up his clothes and folds the same. You can praise him for the work that he has done even before you had told him anything about it; this can help reinforce good behavior on his part.
  • When your kid finishes his assignments on time and ahead of schedule, you can grant him a reward such as playtime with his favored video game. This would reinforce the concept that he is required to finish his assignments early or on schedule, irrespective of any video games.
  • Your kid scores well in his exams, so what do you do? You take him for a night out to one of his favorite movies after a dinner in a nice restaurant.

Positive punishments

As every action has consequences, it is time that your kid picked up on this invaluable lesson.  Here’re  a few examples of positive punishments

  • If your kid does not keep his room clean, you can always withhold his dessert and make him understand that dessert is only for those who can keep their rooms clean. This would result in the room getting cleaned up right away.
  • If your kid comes home after curfew, you need to read the riot act to him explaining why he needs to be on time, each and every time.

Negative reinforcement on Behavior

Negative reinforcement is when you remove something unpleasant from the situation so as to reinforce good behavior. This can come in various forms and shapes but do check out some of the examples listed below.

  • Your kid has been misbehaving with other kids on the bus so you surprise him by riding with him in the bus and make sure everyone knows that you are there only as a result of your kid’s misbehavior. And the added threat that if he does not behave, then you will travel with him in the school bus for the rest of the year with him on your lap. That should especially get him to undergo a rapid transformation, for the better.
  • You nag at your daughter endlessly to go her various tasks; and one fine day she does it all by herself and that’s negative reinforcement.
  • Essentially if your kid is misbehaving or acting out, and you want their behavior to change, then you may want to do something that they hate and they’ll change their tune in a hurry.

Negative punishment

With negative punishment, most parents’ take something that their kid value a lot away; and while this may not necessarily teach the kid about anything, the fact that these items were removed will have an effect on their behavior.

  • Your teen loses his cell phone privileges for not completing his homework on time.

These are some of the ways that positive and negative reinforcement can change and modulate one’s behavior.

Travis King
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