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Positive Reinforcement and Behavior Modification

This is only a brief and basic overview of Positive Reinforcement with Behavior Modification. 

Positive Reinforcement
As rewarding as being a parent is, there can be many frustrating days while raising children.  I do not know what I would have done when my son was young, without a behavior system in place; he was an active guy.  We used Positive Reinforcement, which would be like catching your child doing something you want them to do, rather than catching them misbehaving.  The child is given a reward for doing something correctly, or behaving in a desired manor. 

There are several different ways to implement positive reinforcement as in giving praise, or a tangible reinforcement such as stickers to put on a chart or tokens to be turned in for a prize.  Once a reward is given, it must not be taken away for difficult behavior, later.  In the beginning we used stickers and a sticker chart.  In 2nd grade my son earned poker chips for positive school behavior.  He loved to save the chips up and cash them in for 5 cents each.  The teacher filled out a form I provided each day; I gave my son 3 poker chips for excellent behavior, 2 for good, 1 for acceptable.  The behavior was split into two sections, morning and afternoon.  He could earn chips for a good morning, even if he earned 0 chips in the afternoon.  

·         In general, when you see your child acting appropriately, give them praise.  You are playing so nice together.  You picked up your toys; good for you!”  You are talking with your quiet voice, that’s wonderful! 

Behavior Modification
Make clear cut distinctions of what desirable and undesirable behavior is.  The parent informs the child of what the limits are.  When setting limits do not set too many rules, or it will get confusing to your child.  Make sure your rules are flexible enough to encounter special circumstances, or room for your child to have space.  Never give your child unreasonable demands or you are defeating the purpose.

·         Start out by choosing one behavior at a time.

·         Pin point exactly what behavior you want to change.  (Think about what was happening 2 to 5 minutes before the unwanted behavior started).

·         Communicate your rule and establish a reward and consequence.

§  Do not hit
§  If you do not hit, you can watch TV for 20 minutes after lunch (reward)
§  If you hit, you will not watch TV after lunch (consequence)
(For young children, immediate time out is a good consequence)

·         When your child follows directions, praise them.  Great job!  You did not hit before lunch and can watch TV. 
·         If the child does not follow directions, give one warning.  If the rule is broken again, then the consequence is implemented.  Do not shout or react to your child’s undesirable behavior.
·         Give a reason for why the consequence is being implemented.  Because you hit your sister, you will not watch TV after lunch.  Or, now you have a time out.
·         This will only work with consistency and follow through from the parents, and consistency of reward and consequence.