Positive reinforcements in children”s education

How to use positive stimuli for the child”s learning

In the way of education sometimes we find flat and pleasant sections and, on other occasions, they are uphill, cobbled and somewhat tortuous. To reduce obstacles we must know the most used strategies in educational psychology of the 21st century, one of the most powerful is undoubtedly the Positive Reinforcement.

Positive Reinforcement consists in offering the child a pleasant stimulus every time he emits an adequate response, so he will tend to repeat it to a greater extent. For example, we offer you a smile and compliment after ordering your room, we give you ice cream if you have behaved well all afternoon at the grandparents” house, we allow you to watch TV if you have done your homework …

6 tips on how to educate children with positive reinforcements

In order to use Positive Reinforcement in an appropriate manner and achieve the best results, we must take into account the following basic guidelines:

  1. For positive reinforcement to be effective it must be explained to the child before he performs the desired behavior and in positive terms. That is to say, we are not going to say ”As you do not do your homework, there is no TV this afternoon”. If not we are going to sit in front of him, at a time when we can chat quietly, making sure he listens to us and we will say: ”From now on, whenever you do the homework planned for that afternoon, you will be able to watch TV”.
  2. We have to be very concrete in what the child will achieve: at what time and for how long. That does not lead to mistakes, or to attempts at negotiation. For example, ”You can watch TV for 20 min. after dinner”.
  3. Positive reinforcement should be applied in the short term. That is, the pleasant stimulus for the child should be applied just after the desired behavior. If the desired behavior is to study every day and the stimulus we offer is a trip in the summer, the child does not have enough capacity to maintain the desired behavior every day for that long-term motivational stimulus. The closer in time, the more efficiency we will achieve.
  4. Reinforcement adjusted to the desired behavior, which is consistent and fair.
  5. Nice for the child. If we want to achieve an important change, you must have a high dose of motivation for him, you have to think about what he likes in his day to day. Sometimes we do not realize that what our children can like most is to spend pleasant time with us, playing a board game, taking a walk, eating ice cream together…
  6. Of course, we must be consistent. Whenever the child emits the behavior, it must be followed by the planned reinforcement. If we consider that we are not going to be consistent with this stimulus, it is preferable that it does not start, because at the moment we lose credibility it is very difficult to achieve the following objectives.

Regardless of the proper application of reinforcements, these strategies should always be accompanied by unconditional love. We do not stop loving them because they have done something that we believe is inappropriate and, thus, we must pass it on. Otherwise, we could damage self-confidence, self-esteem and ultimately generate emotional instability.

Why use positive reinforcement with children

Traditionally in our society, punishment has been used to achieve a proper education for children. However, continued punishment is not always effective as it demands the attention of parents towards their children and sometimes it is what the children themselves seek. In addition, they visualize it as an external imposition and may even damage self-esteem.

It is preferable to use the positive reinforcement accompanied by the extinction, I will not attend those ”attention calls” in negative that I want them to disappear. Thus, little by little I will develop strategies to achieve my positive attention.

When parents learn to use positive reinforcement and extinction, coupled with unconditional affection and very little use of punishment (only when the child”s performance is severe and unjustified), children begin to repeat appropriate responses internally and begin to feel better with this change because their relationships with others and with themselves also improve.

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