Get Immediate with Reinforcement


You have probably heard that Positive Reinforcement is best practice and it is the way to make positive behavior changes. And that’s absolutely right.

Now, have you ever wondered: How does Reinforcement work? How do I use it? Am I doing it right? What do I do if I don’t have that much rewards to give? What do I do if I don’t want to give too much? How do I get the most bang-for-my-buck when I give rewards?

If you have pondered these questions, then you definitely need to know about the 4 different variables that make Reinforcement as effective as possible! One of these variables is: Immediacy. This answers the question: WHEN do I reward a positive behavior? As you “catch your child being good,” it is uber important to reward that positive behavior immediately.

Immediacy is uber important because:

1) your child shows different types of positive and negative behaviors constantly (behaviors do not stop);

2) the reward that you give, at that moment in time, will have the most effect on increasing the behaviors that most recently occurred (either good or bad); and

3) you want to avoid rewarding any unwanted behaviors by leaving zero to very little time between the desired behaviors and the reward.

Immediacy of Reinforcement is especially important when you’re teaching a new skill or behavior, such as independently waking up in the morning or putting the dish in the sink after eating or turning off all electronics by bedtime.

Immediate Reinforcement is the gold standard. However, if immediate is not possible, then a rule of thumb states that reinforcement needs to be given within two minutes; after that the connection between the reward to the positive behavior has likely been lost and there’s increasing risk of rewarding more recent behaviors which may be unwanted.

With Immediacy in mind and practice, you will get the most effectiveness out of the rewards that you do give, and in return you will see more desired behaviors from your child.

To read more about how to use specific reinforcements effectively when teaching behaviors, click HERE.

Missed the last Best Behaviors blog? VISIT our Best Behaviors page for more insights from Mr. Dang.


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