All About Reinforcement

Reinforcement: Your greatest strategy!

Reinforcement is one of the most important and powerful strategies when teaching your child a new skill or behavior. It is what occurs immediately following a behavior to increase the future likelihood that the behavior will happen again. In other words, reinforcement strengthens a behavior. 

You can check out this video to learn all about reinforcement from one of our ABA therapists.

Types of reinforcement:

  • Attention
    • Ex. Praise and high-quality attention
  • Items
    • Ex. Favorite toy
  • Activities
    • Ex. Going to the park

Things to think about when using reinforcement:

  • Quality: Make sure the reinforcement is personalized, preferred, age appropriate, motivating, and that they care about the reinforcement. Always match the effort to the reinforcement.
  • Deprivation and satiation: When a child has not received a reinforcer for a long period of time, deprivation, it may have a stronger value. When a child has been satiated on a reinforcer, it may lose its value.
  • Immediacy and follow through: The reinforcement should be given immediately following the behavior.
  • Pair reinforcing items with social praise: Social attention and praise can be a powerful reinforcer. However, items may be a more effective reinforcer for some. Pairing praise with these items will help the child value both!
  • Clear contingency/connection: Make sure the child understands the behavior is related to the reinforcement. Make sure they cannot get the reinforcement elsewhere otherwise it may not be as effective anymore.
  • Catch them being good: Praise behavior you want to see when they are already doing it.
  • Adding rather than subtracting: Focus on adding reinforcement (positive reinforcement) rather than taking something else away (negative reinforcement).

Now that you understand how to use reinforcement, think of what may be reinforcing to your child! Use this effective strategy to see more of the behaviors you want to occur! 

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