The environment in which an individual spends his or her formative years has a profound effect on his or her personality, one that will last him or her a lifetime. This is a widely-known and accepted fact. An individual who has spent his childhood in a violent or aggressive environment will have an aggressive or violent streak to his personality. On other hand, individuals who belong to a quiet, peaceful and secure environment turn out to be confident, secure and balanced adults.
Positive reinforcement is the process whereby desirable behavior is encouraged by presenting a reward at the time of occurrence of such behavior. Positive reinforcement is a tried and tested method in what is known in psychology as ‘operant’ conditioning. It is widely studied and used in behavior analysis.
Some of the advantages of using positive reinforcement are:
- It can be successfully used to increase the frequency of a wide range of behaviors (positive and negative).
- It can be used to produce new behaviors.
- It can be effectively used in the classroom to help students identify their strengths and to put them to optimum use to accomplish tasks allotted to them.
Positive communication is an important tool of positive reinforcement. Using positive communication helps build self-esteem which, in turn, is the basis of self-confidence and independence. At this point, it may be useful to know that individual’s self-esteem is greatly influenced by the quality of interaction and the kind of relationship they share at home and in the workplace.
Motivation is another factor that highly impacts the use of positive reinforcement. Motivation affects all aspects of living. Being positively motivated in life is essential for growth, success and the overall well-being of a person. It can also be successfully used for motivating people.
Timing is critical to achieve the best results by using positive reinforcement. The desired behavior needs to be rewarded immediately. A delay in rewarding the positive behavior will have no effect in reinforcing the desirable behavior since the time gap between the desirable behavior and recognition of the same can make or break the behavior.
Consistency is of utmost importance. A particular behavior which may be considered positive or desirable and which has been rewarded should stay in that category. Something that is considered “good” behavior today should not be labeled otherwise tomorrow. Such inconsistency can be counterproductive, lead to confusion in the child’s mind and indecisiveness about acceptable behavior in future.
If implemented properly, positive reinforcement is a simple technique that can help you change an individual’s behavior around – usually very quickly.
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