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The Difference Between Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Trying to figure out different ways to approach behavior can be overwhelming and frustrating. One thing to always remember is to try and focus on reinforcing the behavior you want to see moreBlog-Reinforcement-Main-Landscape
than punishing the behavior you are wanting to decrease. Using positive and negative reinforcement can both help achieve the same goal of increasing the behavior you would like to see more of.

The difference between positive and negative reinforcement is simple. The use of positive reinforcement is adding something (typically something that is liked) to the environment after a behavior occurs that will increase the future instance of that behavior. The use of negative reinforcement is taking away something (typically something that is not liked) from the environment after a behavior occurs that will increase future instances of that behavior.

 Examples of positive reinforcement include:

  • Giving a praise after a specific appropriate behavior occurs and then that behavior continues to increase.
  • Earning a special treat after a specific appropriate behavior occurs and then that behavior continues to increase.
  • Getting a 5 minute 1:1 time with parent after a specific appropriate behavior occurs and then that behavior continues to increase.

Examples of negative reinforcement include:

  • Removing a chore from the chore list from the schedule after a specific appropriate behavior occurs and then that behavior continues to increase.
  • Taking away a specific school related task after appropriate behavior occurs and then that behavior continues to increase.

The key to making sure either type of reinforcement is working is to measure and track the behavior and see if that behavior is increasing over time!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

Meet-With-An-Applied-Behavior-Analyst

Applying ABA at Home

Does your child struggle with stereotypical or problem behaviors in your home? Are youBlogABAHome-Main-Landscape exhausted from constant redirection and monitoring? Do you need a change? Can parents utilize the basic principles of ABA at home with their kids? Yes! Here are some quick tips and tricks to help behavior management in your home by applying ABA.

Give Behavior Specific Praise

Always praise appropriate behaviors! Providing this type of positive reinforcement for good behavior will not only increase your child’s motivation but will also allow you to see more of those behaviors in the future. Throwing in a specific praise statement gives the child feedback on the exact behavior you want to see increased. For example, saying “Nice job!” is good, but saying, “Nice job packing your back pack!” is even better and you’re likely to see them packing their backpack the next day.

Offer Choices

Whenever possible offer your child choices. This can range from choosing when they take their bath to what shirt they wear for school and everything in between. Offering choices allows your child to be part of the decision making process, making transitions or undesired activities less of a hassle. The more choices, the better.

Provide Clear Expectations & Follow Through

Set clear, concise expectations for your child and follow through with them! Stating expectations before engaging in a specific activity gives the child a set of rules to follow. As a parent you’re able to refer back to these expectations as reminders throughout the activity. Once you set an expectation it should be followed no matter what (this is key!). Remember to provide attention and praise for followed expectations.

Don’t Prompt Too Soon

When your child is engaging in any daily living skills (tooth brushing, setting the table, tying shoes, etc.) allow them to perform the task independently before you assist them. This teaches independence and problem solving. If your child is struggling after 3-5 seconds of attempting, then provide prompting to help them complete the skill. We don’t want to see inappropriate prompt dependency.

Provide directive statements as opposed to questions

Make sure you’re communicating directions clearly. Instead of providing a question, give a directive statement that your child needs to follow. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re asking questions instead of directive statements. When asking a question, it gives the child the opportunity to respond with their choice; however, providing a statement only has one appropriate outcome. Changing, “are you ready for dinner?” to “it’s time for dinner” is a quick fix.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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reinforcement and punishment

How to Properly Use Reinforcement and Punishment

Reinforcement and punishment are common terms that most people have heard of and use on a daily basis, whether they realize it or not. Although the concepts seem easy to understand and implement, it can be easy to confuse the basic principles and/or implement them incorrectly.  In order to understand the difference between reinforcement and punishment, it is important to understand the definitions of both terms.

Reinforcement

reinforcement and punishment

Reinforcement is a consequence following a behavior that increases the probability that the behavior will increase in the future. The consequence can be either positive or negative.

Positive Reinforcement is something added to the consequence that will increase that particular behavior in the future.

Example: Your child cleans his room the first time you ask, so you give him  a cookie as a reward. In the future he is more likely to clean his room the first time you ask.

Negative Reinforcement is something removed from the consequence that will increase that particular behavior in the future.

Example: Students do well on their math test so the teacher doesn’t give them homework over the weekend.

Negative reinforcement is often interpreted incorrectly and becomes confused with punishment. But from the above definition and example, you can see that negative reinforcement is used to increase desired behaviors, and is not punishing in any way.

Punishment

Punishment is a consequence following a behavior that decreases the probability that a particular behavior will occur in the future. As with reinforcement, the consequences can be positive or negative.

Positive Punishment:  Something added to the consequence that will decrease a certain behavior in the future.

Example: Your child talks back to you, so you make them do extra chores.

Negative Punishment: When a consequence includes the removal of an item or privilege that will decrease the behavior in the future.

Example: Your child fails a test, so you take away their cell phone for a week.

 

Tips for using reinforcement 

  • Always be sure to only reward behaviors that you would like to strengthen and see again in the future. It is easy to inadvertently reinforce negative behaviors without realizing it (Ex: You child is crying in the grocery store because you won’t buy them candy. You eventually give in and buy them candy, so the next time they want candy in the grocery store they are going to cry). In this example the behavior of crying was positively reinforced, so that behavior will continue in the future.
  • Vary the type of reinforcement used to avoid overindulgence of a particular item or activity (i.e., if you always reward your child with candy for good behavior, they are likely to get tired of the candy and may stop engaging in the desired behavior).
  • Before choosing a reinforcer, figure out what your child is currently motivated by and use that item. Some children can be motivated by the same item for longer periods of time, and others may change their motivation more frequently.
  • Be consistent with the delivery of reinforcement in order to maintain the desired behavior.

 Tips for using punishment

  • Be sure to only punish behavior that you want to decrease. In addition to inadvertently reinforcing negative behavior, it is also possible to accidentally punish appropriate behaviors.
  • When punishing a behavior you want to decrease, always make sure you continue to reinforce appropriate behaviors.
  • If you find yourself using punishment and the behavior is not decreasing, re-evaluate the consequence and try another consequence. Also, what may be punishing to your child this week may not be punishing next week. Just as you always need to re-evaluate what reinforcers to use, you also need to re-evaluate what punishing consequences to use based on your child’s current motivation.
  • Be consistent with the delivery of consequences in order to decrease the undesired behavior.

Click here for more great tips to implement positive and negative reinforcement during play dates.

potty training and sensory processing disorder

8 Potty Training Tips for a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

“Uh-oh, pee pee in my pants!” will most likely become a joke around your household. Often, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and difficulty in potty training go together like peanut-butter and jelly.

Developmentally speaking, children become ready to be potty trained between the ages of 18-36 months. Don’t let that age bother you or become a source of stress, though.  All children develop at different ages. Children with SPDpotty training and sensory processing disorder might take a little longer to toilet train depending on their sensory needs. 

Remember, the body has five senses: vision, hearing, smell, touch and taste, and each sense is integrated into our bodies differently. In addition, the body has a sensation known at interoception, which refers to your “body centered” functions that require no conscious thought. These are necessary life functions including heart rate, hunger, thirst and digestion, state of arousal, digestion and bowel movements.  Children with sensory processing disorder maybe over-responsive (sensory avoiding) or under-responsive (sensory seeking) to one of more these sensations, leading to different manifestations of difficulties with potty training.

Is can be difficult to determine what is the most efficient way to help your potty training child with SPD. Remember to go at your child’s pace for potty training. Allow your child to develop the skills to become physically and emotionally ready by providing positive reinforcement. Avoid punishing your child or criticizing them in their efforts to learn, no matter if your child is 2 or 6 years old.

Here are 8 tips for potty training your child with Sensory Processing Disorder:

  1. Prepare your child by reading a toilet training book. Children learn well with visual supports. Books like Once Upon a Potty written by Alona Frankel provide humorous visuals for both boys and girls. Sesame Street had made a video titled Elmo’s Potty Time that eases a child’s toileting anxiety with songs and rhymes.
  2. Prepare the bathroom for sensory sensitive children by provide soft lighting, soft toilet tissue, and making the bathroom as quiet as possible. For sensory seeking children, provide bright light with fun music.
  3. Be aware of the techniques that help calm your child. If your child enjoys deep brushing or hugs, provide these prior to sitting him on the toilet seat.
  4. Provide a padded toilet seat for your child to combat tactile sensitivities to cold temperatures as the seasons change.
  5. As your child transitions from pull-ups to underwear, be conscious of seam placements and the material of the underwear.
  6. Give your child a fun experience by allowing him to choose which underwear to buy– after all, clothes (even the ones that are not seen) should be fun!
  7. For a child who has difficulty in feeling the sensations of needing to “go”, encourage him to use the toilet on a schedule (start with every hour). Provide positive reinforcement for your child trying!
  8. If your child is anxious about the automatic flush in public restrooms, cover the sensor with a post-it note to eliminate scary surprises.

As a parent, potty training can be one of the most frustrating times of your child’s development. Just remember, your child is learning from and with you!

Looking to help your child with SPD succeed in school? Register for our FREE Live Webinar | Sensory Strategies for School Success on November 17th.






Child being told to be quiet

Working With Parents Regarding Behaviors at Home

One of the major stressors that parents have to deal with on a daily basis is negative behaviors.  Negative behaviors can take the form of  non-compliance, physical aggression, and/or verbal aggression.  Behavioral management focuses on increasing on-task behaviors (e.g. behaviors parents want the child to engage in) while extinguishing off-task behaviors (the negative behavior).   Below are some bullet points that are important for parents to realize about behavioral management.

  • Child being told to be quietNegative behaviors always increase in intensity when being modified or extinguished.
  • Focus should almost always be on positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors
  • Punishment only utilized when behavior is dangerous to the child or others
  • Reasons for failure of reinforcement systems

o   Too confusing; if we as adults do not understand them, then the child of course will not

o   The wrong behavior is being addressed

  • Goals need to be attainable

o   Child and parent have to see that the system will work

o   Slowly increase demands

  • Never take away a reinforcement that a child earned
  • The reinforcer will constantly change

o   What is rewarding today for the child will likely be different in the near future

Behavior almost always can be modified.  It is important for parents and professionals that are working with the child to understand that, in order for a behavioral reinforcement system to work, there needs to be consistency with the approach.   The idea is to set realistic and measurable goals and constantly identify how much improvement is exhibited.






Creative Ways to Help your Child Work on Handwriting

Working on handwriting at home can feel like a lose-lose battle for parents and children alike.  It can be a challenging and/or least preferred activity for children, which makes it hard for parents to want to implement and follow through with.  While handwriting is certainly an activity which your child’s occupational therapist or academic specialist can help with, it is extremely important to expose your child to handwriting consistently at home on a daily or weekly basis.

Boy writing

Below are different creative writing ideas to get your child practicing his handwriting with less hesitation!

  • Write the family grocery list
  • Copy a recipe onto a recipe card
  • Create a bucket list of activities or places to go
  • Make a birthday list (e.g. places to have next birthday party; themes for party)
  • Write upcoming events onto the family calendar
  • Write out personal goals for the upcoming school year (e.g. to be part of a school play; to join a new sports team; to get straight A’s)
  • Keep track of what you ate each day or plan meals for the next day
  • Help create a to-do list (e.g. chores; long-term homework assignments)
  • Keep track of a topic of interest (e.g. bird watching)
  • Write a book report on your favorite book
  • Make a comic book with drawings and short phrases
  • Copy jokes into a booklet format (e.g. from laffy taffy wrappers or popsicle sticks)
  • Create a list of potential outfits to wear to school or to pack for an upcoming vacation
  • Write out cards to send to family/friends
  • Paraphrase the rules to a favorite board game or card game

The suggestions above can help your child find a handwriting activity that he does not mind doing.  If it is still a struggle, offer him two options for the day (e.g. you can either write my grocery list for me or write out a card for Grandma’s birthday).  You can also try setting a timer and let your child know that he needs to write for 10 minutes or come up with at least 3 sentences (or whatever is age appropriate compared to his peers at school).  Lastly, for the first few trials, don’t feel like you have to edit or critique your child’s work, rather, just have him try to do his best work and praise him for being creative or trying something new.  There will be plenty of opportunities to work on sizing, spacing and spelling after handwriting becomes more of a routine at home.

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Tips to Get a Child to Try a New Food | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s Webisode, a registered dietitian provides strategies to help your child to try new foods.

In this video you will learn:

  • When is it recommended to offer a child a new food
  • How many exposures to a new food before we expect a child to eat it
  • How to make a child feel comfortable with trying new foods

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now, your host, here’s
Robyn.

Robyn: Hello, and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman, and I’m standing here today with Stephanie Wells, a Pediatric
Registered Dietician. Stephanie, can you give us three tips on how to get a
child to try a new food?

Stephanie: Sure. The first tip would be that you want to offer the new
foods in a low pressure situation. Offer them foods at the table or on
their high chair, and consistently offer them a new food, maybe once per
week. Don’t pressure them to try the new food, but just offer it to them
and encourage them to try it, and let them sort of come around to it. Just
remember that research shows that it takes a child 8 to 15 exposures to a
new food before they might actually eat it.

The second tip would be to have them help pick out a new food that they
might want to try. And they can do that at the grocery store or the farmers
market. And also get them involved in actually preparing the food.

The third tip would be to be a good role model for your children, in terms
of eating the types of foods that you would like them to eat. It can also
be really effective if they eat in a setting with their peers. So if they
have cousins or a play group where they can eat together, and if they see
other kids eating those types of foods, then they will be more likely to
want to eat it themselves.

Robyn: All right. Well, thank you so much for the tips. And thank you to
our viewers for watching. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of mind
to your family with the best in educational programming. To subscribe to
our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit our website at
learnmore.me. That’s learnmore.me.