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Effective Reinforcement is Not a Bribe

reinforcement not a bribe happy children

Using reinforcers effectively can significantly improve your child's behavior (Read: What is a Reinforcer).

Whether you are utilizing reinforcement by withholding fun activities until obligations are completed (e.g., once the bed is made and room is cleaned, your child can play with Play-Doh) or if you have a more complex system where you are providing points that can be traded in for privileges (Read: How to Improve Your Child's Behavior With a Points System), these are not examples of bribes.

A bribe can sometimes improves your child's behavior in the moment; but it actually has negative long-term effects.

Effective Reinforcement is Not a Bribe | Parent Like a Professional Bribes are typically resorted to out of desperation when your child’s behavior has already deteriorated. For example, you’ve asked your child to put on shoes, and she starts screaming and flailing around. You’re late for work so you offer a bribe: “if you put your shoes on, you can play on my phone.” This bribe miraculously makes your child stop screaming and start getting shoes on. 

You may have experienced a momentary shift in behavior, but what you have essentially taught your child is that if they scream and flail when asked to do something non-preferred, they’ll get the offer of something awesome. 

So, put in some work and decide on an intentional reinforcement system to really get to the heart of behavior improvement and to create lasting change in your child's behavior.


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