The last two posts on managing behavior in our growing kiddos have highlighted the importance of using setting GOALS and EXPECTATIONS as effective tools but these two cannot work in isolation of REINFORCEMENT/REWARD.

Parenting is something parents consciously do right or unconsciously struggle through with every day. Every action (including words) you display around your child ends him a signal which he/she tries to interpret in order to protect himself or get what he wants. If you break it down to the simplest of elements, your child is a creature who wants to eat, sleep and basically be left alone. Sure, there are social behaviors where children play and interact, but in general, a child just wants to go about his/her daily activities without being saddled with any responsibility or hounded around.

The strength of any behavior change is directly linked to the CONSEQUENCES (good or bad) that follows the behavior while Reinforcement and Punishment are the tools used to CORRECT or MODIFY a behavior either to strengthen it or weaken it. We have “Positive(added) and Negative (taken away) Reinforcement” which both increase the probability of a behavior because the behavior is being reinforced, Positive and Negative Punishment which reduces the probability of a behavior because there is a form of punishment following the behavior.

Now when you are you are with a child; pay attention to the little things you are doing that get a response from your child and how in turn you respond to his/her behavior. Know that your child will try to figure out what it is you want him/her to do if you present it in a continuous and timely manner. Ensure to reward the smallest try and not to ask more of your child than he is physically and mentally prepared to do. This will help build trust between you and your child and you in turn, will see that your child will comply, learn and the possibilities of what you both can achieve together are endless.


Come with me as we explore the various types of Reinforcement, effects and outcomes in the coming weeks.