Positive reinforcement in children behavior is a wide-spread technique that is used lately all around the world. Nowadays, more and more parents come to the conclusion that they should reward and apprise their children for positive behavior in order to motivate them to behave this way in the future. Positive reinforcement cultivates a high level of self-esteem in children. Furthermore, children learn how to behave and create relationship with their parents and caregivers. Also, it helps parents raise their children in a friendly and cheerful environment where they can reinforce better skills and personal features. Emotional and behavioral problems of children are of great concern of parents, educators, caregivers, and community. Thus, it is important to educate parents how to implement positive reinforcement techniques in the families. Children, who are raised in the families that support and provide positive reinforcement, have more chances to become successful in their future lives and careers. The main goal of positive reinforcement is to treat children with love and respect. By doing so, parents will receive back more love and care from their children in the future than those who used to punish their children. 

Keywords: positive reinforcement, technique, children


Nowadays, positive reinforcement in children behavior is considered to be the most effective way of managing children. Children often behave challenging, thus, adults should consider their age changes. Only positive attitude to children behavior, no matter how challenging it could be, could lead to desirable outcomes. The aim of positive reinforcement in children behavior is to obtain effective consequences and avoid serious problems. Actually, people who think and act positively achieve their goals with better outcomes. The way parents, teachers and community treat children depends on their experience, awareness and patience. Adults have to realize that with the help of positive reinforcement in children behavior, they are creating a fertile environment where children can develop their personal skills. Behavior change of children occurs in every stage of their development. Therefore, parents and educators should cultivate positive attitudes and behaviors in them. Positive reinforcement helps shape desired behavior of children in the future stages of their lives. Only people with positive attitude can make children around them happy and build their characters in a positive manner. 

What is Positive Reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement in children behavior means reinforcement of desired behavior in a child. Many parents understand that they cannot raise their children only controlling them. On the contrary, controlling will give no results. Only positive reinforcement can help children to build certain stereotypes of their behavior that will shape their personalities in the future. Zastrow & Kirst-Ashman argue that to reinforce desired behavior in a child, parents should cultivate desire of children to behave positively. The reinforcement techniques require rewarding children in case they behave good. Children should realize that they will receive what they want when their behavior is not challenging. Positive behavior of children will become more consistent with time. Positive reinforcement will work any time when a child would receive what he or she desires. The duration, magnitude, and latency of the same behavior may become a norm in the future. By doing so, children will learn to understand that their positive actions lead to their adults encouragement. 

Miltenberger consumed that children behavior is natural and depends on their temperament. Parents should treat their children with understanding and respect no matter how they behave. Positive reinforcement requires parents to reward and praise their children. Children should be rewarded immediately in order to understand what the elders want from them. Immediate recognition helps children to cultivate a desired behavior. It is important to identify what features and qualities parents or teachers want to cultivate in children. In order to cultivate appropriate qualities, adults have to motivate children to behave in a certain manner. Positive reinforcement in children behavior has become a popular technique all over the world. It does not allow parents and caregivers to punish, hurt or do any harm to children. Many experts assert that these negative techniques lead to low self-esteem, mental degradation and emotional stress. Parent’s positive attitude to children shape their relationship and future wellbeing of their kids. 

The Effectiveness of Positive Reinforcement 

Historically, there were many debates about the better ways to raise children. Many parents consider that they should control children and be strict with them. It happens mostly in the families where parents pursue the authoritarian style of leadership. The outcomes of such an approach have shown that punishment of children is not effective for their wellbeing and future relationship with others. Furthermore, positive reinforcement is recognized mostly by developed democratic countries. It is used for many decades, and has won its recognition among parents and the public. The research asserts that children who were raised in the families with positive reinforcement become more successful in life. The studies have shown that positive reinforcement in children behavior helps them avoid stress and overcome difficulties. This is an effective tool that is used widely in kindergarten and pre-school children facilities.  

According to Skinner, parents who use positive reinforcement are more successful than those who use punishment because punishment gives only temporarily affect leaving side effects. However, positive reinforcement is more productive in behavior modification of a child. Positive reinforcement is effective because it teaches children how to behave in different situations. Due to positive reinforcement, children learn how to communicate with parents, caregivers and the world. It is a complicated process because children do not know how to be flexible, humiliating, and obedient, and try to receive this experience unconsciously. Positive reinforcement is associated with rewards and children want to receive them again and again when they behave in an appropriate manner. The effectiveness of positive reinforcement is rather fertile in the early childhood. This positive attitude teaches children how to interact with each other and their elder. Finally, the research has proven that positive reinforcement in children behavior has more benefits than drawbacks. 


Types of Positive Reinforcers 

Positive reinforcers can be divided into two main categories, namely primary and secondary. Primary reinforcers should not be learned because they are natural. Thus, food or candies, for example, should not be associated with any other reinforcers. They include natural casual activities. Children are used to receive them naturally. Secondary reinforcers should be associated with other reinforcers that should be valued and learned. For example, money, reinforce a child to behave this or that way in order to receive rewards and praises. Secondary reinforcers are associated with valuable things that children could receive in case they behave in an appropriate manner. Thus, children will act and behave the way that allows them to receive a desirable reward. However, the research asserts that there are negative sides of secondary reinforcers. For instance, when a child behaves badly in a store, parents try to make him quite by buying a toy. This action may lead to negative consequences because every time when a child will enter the store he can behave badly. 

Miltenberger assumes that secondary reinforcers should be very selective and adapted to a certain situation. For example, when a child is learning to dress, a mother can say that this is good. This statement can mean nothing for the child. However, when she says that this is good and gives him a candy this praise could mean something to him. Thus, it is more obvious, that a child would likely to dress by his own in the future in order to receive a candy. The study has shown that children have priorities over different secondary reinforcers. Thus, material reinforcers give children the opportunity to acquire their value through learning. Actually, money means nothing for small children who learn to dress. They can learn their value through rewards that the elders give them for their behavior. By making stereotypes, children will behave the same way in the future. 

Shaping Behavior

Many experts consider that positive reinforcement shapes children behavior. In 1971, psychologist B.F. Skinner introduced the phenomenon of operant conditioning. According to him, positive reinforcement and punishment are the main techniques that shape children behavior. It is a well-known fact that children often behave aggressively. As a result, parents often face problems to modify negative behavior. The research assumes that the most effective decision to any problems in children behavior is positive reinforcement. It is important for parents and caregivers to understand that positive reinforcement helps shape children behavior and character. Punishment should not be used in upbringing and educating children. Otherwise, adults may cultivate aggressive stereotypes in children behavior. Unfortunately, there are many instances of aggressive children at school and during their leisure time. Oftentimes, violent behavior of parents leads to serious problems with the law of many young guys. Therefore, parents should be educated how to implement positive reinforcement in children behavior at the early stages of their lives.

If a child is rewarded for doing something right, he will certainly do this in the future. Parents who teach their children to behave nice and treat others with respect will be respected by their children as well. In the modern world, when parents are busy at work and do not have enough time to spend with their children, they can lose contact with them. However, children need parents’ care and attention in order to behave positive. It is important to realize that children need positive reinforcement not only in pre-school period but also later in their lives. Nowadays, American families have to think more thoroughly about positive reinforcement in child behavior because children are the future of the nation. 

Benefits of Positive Reinforcement in Children Behavior

Though, there are opponents of positive reinforcement in children behavior it has proven by many psychologists that this technique is more productive than punishment. Punishment is a technique that was used in the past or by uneducated people nowadays. This type of reinforcement encourages a child to cultivate confidence and self-esteem. Gimpel, Peacock and Holland argue that positive reinforcement prevents children from emotional and behavioral problems. This type of reinforcement cultivates friendly and trustful relationship between parents and children. Positive reinforcement prevents children from getting into trouble and develops valuable skills necessary for the future life. It is an important fact that positive reinforcement strengthens the children-parent bond. Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective tools in treatment in behavior disorder in children. It is widely used in behavior disorder treatment. In order to protect children from behavior disorders, parents and caregivers should implement positive attitude to children.

The research asserts that both children and parents benefit from positive reinforcement. It teaches children to be polite with others, develop positive habits and easily interact with people. These habits will help them to succeed in their future life and career. Positive reinforcement helps children to feel comfortable and protected in their families. Teachers who give positive reinforcement for children gain better results in their classrooms than those who use punishment. Finally, positive reinforcement in children behavior teaches them to become valuable participants in improving society. 


The research asserts the positive reinforcement in children behavior is an essential tool in developing a positive personality. It helps children to cultivate positive features and become successful in the future. Parents and caregivers should concentrate on this reinforcement rather than on punishment. In order to live in harmony with their children, parents should implement this technique in their upbringing practice. Children who are rewarded have better opportunities in life. Thinking and acting positively may encourage children to develop positive traits of their characters. In fact, people who think and act positively, achieve their goals with better outcomes. Positive reinforcement helps children to avoid serious problems. Adults have to realize that creating positive reinforcement in children behavior they are creating a fertile environment where children can develop their personal skills. Behavior change of children occurs in every stage of their development. Therefore, positive reinforcement helps shape desired behavior of children in the future stages of their lives. Only positive people can make children around them happy and build their characters in a positive manner.


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