Monday, February 11, 2008

Positive Reinforcement - Is it good or bad for the child?

Positive reinforcement is when a particular action is followed by a specific response and that response is more likely to recur in future.
My older son is constantly refusing to do any work related to school, being very new to the school atmosphere and knowing that his younger brother does not go to school, he refuses to listen to anything we tell him.The following june session he is going to go to Kindergarten, things are not going to get easy there for him nor me as a parent.

He needs to begin his writing skills and knowing the child that he is - he will do stuff in a new atmosphere only when he has done it before.

To begin his writing practice, i tried to make it fun by saying that the number's be is going to write will be happy only when he completes them well. With my help of course, he decided to make a start. After about a minute, he was " NO, NO MORE"

My reaction to this was " Ice Cream said he is waiting for you, he wants you to eat him"
There was a twinkle in his eyes. He loves ice creams and he does not get them often. He had to grab this opportunity and wanted it immediately.

At this point, I told him " Come on lets make all the numbers happy and finish writing them, the ice cream is waiting for you to finish your writing, else he will not get a ticket for you to eat him". For my luck, it worked.

He did complete his work happily and with lost of fun we sand the " WE DID IT" Song from Dora the Explorer and had the ice cream.

Now the next day, it was writing time again, he asked if the ice cream was waiting.
HMMMM, I though, Well, its over and gone, but he bought that and wrote with the same enthusiasm, but wanted some treat.

So I told him I would begin a piggy bank where you can start collecting money for every good thing you do and when you reach Rs. 50 you can buy yourself something.

Now the piggy bank is not yet bought, but well, it worked that night.

By and large rewards do not have a general harmful influence on motivation to perform a task. The self generated controversy surrounding the supposed harmful influence of rewards is rather unfortunate as some parents have been misled to avoid praising children because they think this might somehow be harmful.

Praise is a particularly powerful positive reinforcer that helps children learn.My older son, loves praises these days, when we say we did it during his writing time and dance around wiggling our hands, he loves that I am acknolegeding the great work of writing he did, which he resisted for such a long long time.

He used to resist, because I used to insist, with no rewards. All it did was make him retreat back to negative behavior.

I would love you to share your thoughts on this regard. We could have different ideas where positive reinforcement work.

How about down sides? Any quotes?


Aryan-Arjun said...

I am here for the first time..Nice blog..and nice post.
Positive Reinforcement is good provided we draw the line to it...
We cannot afford to praise in such a way that the kids will have a feeling that no one can defeat them...But I myself don't know how to draw the line..
Thanks for visiting my space..Aryan is 17 months old...
Aryan's mom

Archana Doshi said...

Hi Aryan's mom - thanks for visiting. I find myself in the same situation as to where I draw a line. But my children so far have been conducive to the fact that, when the reinforcement is over, it does not come back. They also realizing that it takes different shapes at different times.

FH said...

Positive reinforcement works well most of the time Archana. Sometimes, when they get hurt or hurt others by their words or actions, then they need something serious!! You are doing a very good job so far!
We are lucky we have mostly well behaved kids, I know some kids who do unbelievable things without their parents knowledge. We should thank our lucky stars for our "Indian" kids!:))

bird's eye view said...

Interesting post. Contrary to our parent's generation, I think we all are much freer with praise, but I do worry about its impact. A recent business article said that youth today are not able to cope with a normal business environment because all their lives they have had so much praise for the smallest effort that they need a constant inflow of praise at work too, to be effective. And I have noticed this trait in our younger recruits at work...

Seena said...

Loved your blog, thanks for commenting in my blog..hope to see you again..:)

Jayashree said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your comments.
Iam glad I found your blog....As far as positive reinforcement goes, it definitely does work especially in areas like potty training....Iam trying to potty train my daughter and I always find that she responds better if I give her a positive response everytime she does her job in the toilet.

Cris said...

Hi Archana, isn't it funny that we all have the same concerns? My boy is having a hard time to learn how to read, but he's great with numbers, maybe I should change my approach. Take care, have a nice weekend!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Archana. This is Lori. How have you been? I was checking your food blog for some ideas regarding dinner and I found your parenting blog. Very nice.
You know, I don't entirely agree with praising children too much. I believe it can be too much and it can have adverse effects like overly confident children who cannot face challenges or who would not try new things out fear of failing, of not raising up to expectations. I have seen this second part in myself.
I found myself stopping my parents many times when they would praise Ananya for no good reason. I do not believe in that, although I do believe in acknowledging her achievements. I don't really know where we should draw the line.
Anyway, there is a book on this. I wished I remembered the name... Alfie Kohn - Unconditional parenting.

Madhumita said...

Hey Archana, I didn't know you blogged here as well. You've started well by prepping your son for kindergarten. I didn't and my little boy went straight from playschool to KG and found it more difficult than most - this may be due to the sort of child he is. I've found that as kids grow older, they tend to manipulate postive reinforcement and perceive them as just "bribes". I generally find that we're too quick to praise and that it discourages kids from doing more to the extent of their ability. But of course, its difficult to find that perfect balance! :)

Archana Doshi said...

So many people with so many insights, has really opened up my mind as well. Thanks all of you for visiting and sharing your thoughts

Jandy said...

you've put up an interesting question, archana. i was brought up without a single hand being laid on me, and thought i'd parent the same way BUT i've been spanking my boys when the warnings don't work. makes me feel as miserable as they do.