According to Psychology Today website, in the A Family Affair: Parents, Children and Society section the article entitled Rewards are Better than Punishment: Here’s Why stated that reward is the best method for reinforcing behavior compared to the punishment method. However, the method utilized and described in this article is not an accurate representation of the reward and punishment in the real world for numerous reasons. The author Corey of the book Counseling and Theory define positive reinforcement as the involvement of adding something of value to the individual such as praise, money, attention and foods as a consequence of certain behavior. On the opposite hand, negative reinforcement involves the escape from or avoidance of aversive or unpleasant stimuli.
In the study of younger and older children completing a computer task which required them to discover rules and when they correctly inferred a rule, as revealed by choices they made in the task, a check “positive reward” appeared on the screen; but if their choice indicated that they had not correctly figured out the rule of the task, then a cross “punishment” appeared on the screen. The study did a well representation of positive reinforcement by adding the “check” after the task is performed correctly. However, the representation of a “cross” for negative reinforcement is incorrect.
Negative reinforcement is defined as taking something away from the person to increase good behavior. In this case by adding a “cross” after an incorrect task is not representing negative reinforcement. A better representation of this positive for this study should include adding an extra minute for computer play if the child completes the task accordingly. Then again, for negative enforcement the child’s computer play time get reduce if the task is performed poorly. When the computer play time (minutes) is taken away; it will reinforcement the behavior of the child. If the proper reward is given, behavior will be reinforcing.
Sometime when we determine reward for children, we have to take into consideration of the appropriate reward for different age group of children. For instance, in this study the “check” or “cross” is not going to be rewarding for the older children. The positive and negative feedback is not going to reinforce their behavior because different age children seek different reward. The younger children may tend to respond more to positive feedback while the older children respond more toward negative feedback. This conclusion is not accurate, older children do respond well with punishment.
From my personal experience, pre- adolescent is the rebellious developmental stage. It is a time when children learning to explore self esteem, self image, approach puberty and faced peer pressure. I personally believe punishment will only reinforce bad behavior. I watched my parent raised my sisters with positive and negative reinforcement and punishment. When my sister did well with her classes, (positive reinforcement) she gets their laptop, cell phone and goes out with their friend on the weekend once in a while. However, if her grade dropped her electronic is (negative reinforcement) confiscated and she couldn’t hang out with her friend on the weekend. Punishment such as telling my sister she cannot go out with her friend until she raised her grade has reinforce bad behavior such as lying about staying after school for a project but only to hang out with her friend. For that reason, sometime we should consider different circumstance of different situation.
I feel that society is accepting of the strategy of ignoring the child’s bad behavior, but it is difficult for them to ignore. Every time a bad behavior goes off; parent feel obligated to interfere with the child’s behavior. It may not cross their mind that the child is engaging in this behavior for attention, foods or other rewards. Sometime the bad behavior get reinforce by punishment and can get out of control. It would be difficult to imagine if punishment was an effective motivator in the younger children.
We would find our self intertwine with ethical concerns and the law. For example, if parent were utilizing spanking as a form punishment to decrease problematic behavior; it will involve many ethical implications. The law will have to identify a fine line between what is child abuse and spanking as a form of punishment. There will always be ethical implication related to children regardless if they were younger or older. Punishment can be brutal if it cause any form of pain to a child. It can vary due to the different developmental stage. A form of punishment may be effective for old children but may be harmful to younger children. As a result, we should handle each child’s situation according to it situation not just because a study indicate that it is the best method.
- Positive Reinforcement (siwel4eva.wordpress.com)
- Positive Or Negative Reinforcement – What Works Best (anotherhallucination.com)
- 12 yr old turns negativity into positive reinforcement (watchingweightloss.com)
- The Risks of “Gamification” for the Enterprise (cloudave.com)