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  • Writer's pictureNicole Yip

The Importance of Reinforcement

Updated: Feb 28, 2023

What is the definition of reinforcement?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of reinforcement is the action or process of reinforcing or strengthening something.

In Applied Behaviour Analysis, reinforcement involves providing positive feedback or rewards when desired behaviors are displayed, which encourages the child to repeat the behavior.

Why is reinforcement important?

Everyone is motivated by reinforcement. For adults, it could be salary, holidays or even going out with friends. Typically developing children may be motivated by praises, hugs, kisses, attention and perhaps an intrinsic desire to learn. Children with ASD do not seek the same kind of reinforcement as they lack the same intrinsic motivation. This is why we use external and tangible reinforcements that are meaningful to them.

How does reinforcement fit into ABA?

Reinforcement is a key component of ABA. Positive reinforcement is used to reward desirable behaviors, while negative reinforcement can be used to reduce or eliminate undesired behaviors. Reinforcement can be in the form of verbal praise, tangible rewards, or a privilege. Additionally, rewards can help increase motivation, self-confidence, and a sense of accomplishment in children thus building self-esteem and independence, which helps to promote learning and development. It is important to remember that reinforcement should be tailored to the individual child and their individual needs. Reinforcement should also be used consistently, as this helps the child to understand the consequences of their behaviors.

Is reinforcement the same as bribery?

Reinforcement is a positive approach that rewards good behavior with verbal praises or tangible rewards like stickers. Reinforcement is an effective long-term strategy as it focuses on rewarding positive behavior rather than focusing on the negative. Bribery, on the other hand, is a negative approach that typically involves a reward in exchange for desired behavior. While bribery can be effective in the short term, it can lead to long-term problems and should be used sparingly. Bribery only provides temporary compliance and can lead to a child expecting a reward every time they complete a task.

Written by Nicole Yip

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