Positive Reinforcement: Everything You Need to Know
B.F. Skinner highlighted the four types of learning in operant conditioning, including positive reinforcement. So, when you wanted to encourage a target behavior, positive reinforcement would be used. It rewards the child with a positive outcome, such as a treat. Positive reinforcement is an effective way to encourage positive behavior and enhance good habits. Children are encouraged to focus on the positive behavior that brings them rewards, all the while replacing the negative or problem behaviors.
Positive reinforcement is often used in schools to replace punishment. It can be effective in many instances too. So, what do you need to know about positive reinforcement?
Understanding the Definitions of Positive Reinforcement
- Dogs receive a treat when they complete a trick.
- Employees earn a bonus at work just by having never missed a day in 2 months.
- Children can be rewarded when they complete their homework for 1 week.
Rewards, treats, and bonuses are all words that can inspire and encourage people to follow the desired behavior. Positive reinforcement can be used in any of the above examples to push students, workers, or even pets, to complete a period of positive behavior. It can be effective and used in various situations also.
When you reinforce positive behaviors, you can remove negative habits.
The Different Types of Rewards
Rewards (reinforcers) can come in many forms, including:
- A Natural Reinforcer: This reward is the direct or automatic result of the new behavior, such as exercising or cutting junk food out of the diet.
- A Social Reinforcer: The reward here is approval or compliments from others.
- A Tangible Reinforcer: Rewards can be material goods, such as money, chocolate, or a toy.
- A Token Reinforcer: Exchange these rewards for an item of value.
When you are using positive reinforcement, it’s important to choose a reinforcer that’s appropriate for the situation in question. If not, it mightn’t have the desired results.
The Use of Positive Reinforcement for Students
Punishment is a necessary part of a school, especially when positive reinforcement hasn’t been successful. This is, however, partly down to the failure of not using the correct reinforcement or the teacher’s lack of patience.
Most schools encourage positive reinforcement to avoid punishing bad behavior. It is often a useful way to build self-esteem among the student in question. While some schools dismiss this method, especially when there are frequently behavioral problems, it could be a useful tool to consider, nonetheless.
Positive Reinforcement and Its Effectiveness
Positive reinforcement can be a great tool for most people, including younger children and adults. Of course, it must be used correctly for positive reinforcement to be effective. That means the timing must be spot-on. For instance, the reward and behavior change needs to have a suitable time delay.
Let’s say you want a student to have perfect attendance. So, instead of starting with 30-days of straight attendance, start with 7-days. When the student completes their 7-days, they get their reward. This can be very effective for younger children. For older students, you could push 14-days of attendance before the reward is given. It’s a useful way to push students to keep their attendance up. It’s the same with employees. Employers could offer a bonus for 2 or 3 months of good attendance.
Positive reinforcement is a great strategy that anyone can use, from parents to teachers, and even employers. It can be a useful way to build confidence and self-esteem. Remember, reinforcement aims to change everyday habits and behaviors. Schools can find this to be a suitable alternative to punishment. Of course, punishments can be necessary; however, they could have the undesired effect and push the student towards more negative behavior. With positive reinforcement, students can learn good habits.