There are many ways to increase the likelihood of children exhibiting desirable behaviors by using positive reinforcements and rewards. To learn how to effectively reinforce behaviors, please re-visit the Skinner chapter.
Parents or teachers may wish to reinforce children for:
Using appropriate manners (e.g., saying “please,” “you are welcome,” and “thank you”);
Moving and talking in a manner appropriate for the environment (e.g., using “library voices;” “walking feet”);
Completing tasks without reminders; and
Calling or texting if they will be late.
Examples of rewards and positive reinforcements include:
Complimenting a child’s behavior (e.g., “I really like the way you put all of your clothes away in your room”);
Praising a child’s actions (e.g., “I am proud of how hard you studied for your spelling quiz.”);
Giving additional privileges;
Clapping or cheering;
Thanking them for behaving a certain way (e.g., “Thank you very much for asking such a detailed question;” “I really appreciate you using your inside voice while we were at the museum.”);
Making sure they overhear you telling someone else about their positive behavior;
Here is a common example of (unintentionally and positively) rewarding inappropriate behavior: An aunt provides candy to her nephew every time he throws a tantrum in the store because he wants candy at the checkout lane.
Figure 1. A child panicking in public. (Photo Source: pxfuel, DMCA)
The aunt reinforces the poor behavior (e.g., a tantrum) by providing reinforcers (e.g., candy and attention) every time he throws a tantrum at the grocery store.
Here is an example of positively rewarding the same child to stop the tantrums: Now that this child throws a tantrum with his parents when they go to the grocery store, his parents provide their son with candy only when he does not throw a tantrum in the store.
His parents reinforce the appropriate behavior (e.g., not throwing a tantrum) by providing reinforcers (e.g., candy and attention) every time they go to the grocery store and he refrains from throwing a tantrum.
Craighead, W. E., Kazdin, A. E., & Mahoney, M. J., (1981). Behavior modification: principles, issues, and applications. 2nd ed. Boston, Mass.: Houghton Mifflin. ↵