An example of positive reinforcement would be

Examples of Positive Reinforcement | YourDictionary

By Elizabeth Trach , M.A. English

Positive reinforcement: being paid to do chores rather than nagged.


    child being handed allowance


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Whether you deal with young children at home or in the classroom, or you want to be a better manager of adults in the workplace, educational psychologists have studied ways to influence people to get the results you want. One effective way to motivate learners and coworkers is through positive reinforcement: encouraging a certain behavior through a system of praise and rewards.

One important type of learning is called operant conditioning, and it relies on a system of rewards and punishments to influence behavior.

The most basic example of operant conditioning is training a dog, whether to do tricks or to stop an unwanted behavior like chewing on furniture. Reinforcement of the behavior means that the goal is to get your subject — whether pet or person — to do more of a desired behavior.

Positive reinforcement means giving something to the subject when they perform the desired action so they associate the action with the reward and do it more often. The reward is a reinforcing stimulus.

Positive reinforcement works because the brain connects the action to the reward, and the subject will repeat the target action in hopes of being rewarded in the future. Positive reinforcement is especially effective at establishing new behaviors, but it may not work as well in the long term if the subject becomes bored with the reward over time.


Changes in behavior can be encouraged by using praise and positive reinforcement techniques at home. Here are some examples for inspiration:

  • Give an allowance or treats to encourage children to complete their chores instead of nagging.
  • Praise your child for undertaking a task without being asked, which will make the child want to do it again to win more approval.
  • Kisses and cuddles from a child after their bedtime story will make the parent to want to read again in the future.
  • Promise a back rub when your spouse washes up if he or she always leaves dishes piling up.


Teachers and other school personnel often use positive reinforcement in the classroom. It's a way to get students to learn the rules and maintain motivation at school. Here are some examples of positive reinforcement in action:

  • Students get to move their peg up the chart whenever assignments are completed on time.
  • Students who volunteer to clean up the playground on a winter afternoon get hot cocoa and cookies afterward.
  • Students who stay quiet in the library get praise from the librarian.
  • The class is rewarded with extra recess when all students pass a test.

Adults can also benefit from positive reinforcement to build morale and encourage them to do their best at work. Here are a few instances of positive reinforcement in the workplace:

  • A bonus is given to workers who don't use any sick days in a pay period.
  • Lunch is brought in for colleagues who help to clean the office kitchen.
  • Raises are awarded to employees who make their sales goals for the year.
  • Prime parking spots are given to employees who drive electric cars to encourage eco-friendly transportation.

Be Encouraging

As you can see, positive reinforcement can be used in a range of settings and situations to teach new skills and encourage people to do their best, and it can be as simple as telling someone “Good job!”.

Positive reinforcement is a practical way to put psychological principles to work in everyday life for great results. It can improve confidence and self-esteem and encourage self-reliance. The benefits are clear.




Positive Reinforcement Explained (10 Examples)

| What Is Positive Reinforcement | 4 Types of Reinforcement | Examples | Positive and Negative Reinforcement | Positive Reinforcement for Kids | Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom | Is Reinforcement Better Than Punishment | Reinforcement Schedules | Cons | How To Use |

Positive reinforcement is a preferred disciplinary strategy in positive parenting because this method doesn’t involve aversive measures or punishment. However, this method doesn’t always work the way we think. Let’s find out what positive reinforcement is, its applications in everyday life, and the best way to use it.

What Is Positive Reinforcement?

In operant conditioning, positive reinforcement aims to increase desired behavior by adding a favorable stimulus right after that behavior occurs. It is rewarding someone for what they do, and this reward encourages them to do it again.

The reinforcing stimulus is a positive reinforcer. A positive reinforcer is something that a person usually enjoys or prefers, so it can motivate them to repeat the target behavior.

Positive reinforcement increases an individual’s tendency to adopt a new practice over time.

This conditioning method has gained popularity over other operant conditioning because it creates a positive learning environment preferred by parents at home and teachers in the classroom.

What are the 4 types of reinforcement?

In S.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning, the 4 types of reinforcement and punishment are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment.

While positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement use consequences to encourage a behavior, punishment uses consequences to discourage a behavior.

Positive punishment is adding an aversive stimulus to deter behavior and negative punishment is removing a favorable stimulus to do so.

Positive Reinforcement Examples

Here are some examples of positive reinforcement used in everyday life.

  1. Dog trainers give dogs food rewards every time they raise their paws on command.
  2. Mom gives a child an allowance for doing house chores.
  3. The manager gives a worker a bonus for completing the project faster.
  4. Dad praises his son for studying hard for the exam.
  5. A toddler is given a piece of candy every time she uses the potty.
  6. An athlete is given an award for running the fastest.
  7. A teacher gives a student extra credit for turning in schoolwork on time.
  8. Employees are given attendance awards for not missing work.
  9. A parent gives a teenager more privileges for getting good grades.
  10. A kid is given a star sticker for doing homework.

The Differences Between Positive and Negative Reinforcement

So what is the difference between positive and negative reinforcement?

In psychology, positive and negative do not represent the quality of the reinforcers. Instead, positive refers to adding a stimulus, while negative refers to subtracting a stimulus.

Positive reinforcement adds a favorable stimulus to increase the probability a response will repeat. So, it is reasonable to believe that positive also refers to the quality of the reinforcement or the target action.

But this is not true.

The two methods, positive or negative, simply refer to whether a stimulus or consequence is being added (positive) or removed (negative).

Positive Reinforcement for Kids

Parents, especially those who practice positive parenting, often use positive reinforcement to motivate young children to behave.

These disciplinary practices are popular because they’re simple and easy to administer. They are also clear and produce predictable results. You do this, and then you get that. There is no confusion or unexpected outcome.

Parents often see fast results using positive reinforcement. The desired response can become habitual quickly.

This approach makes parents feel better about their parenting. They can use pleasant reinforcers instead of aversive consequences. There are no angry kids to deal with, making it an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

Related: Shaping Psychology

Positive Reinforcement in the Classroom

Many teachers use positive reinforcement in their classrooms to control or change students’ problem behavior. Behavior charts are familiar classroom fixtures that serve as a form of positive reinforcement.

When students show appropriate or specific behavior, positive reinforcers such as points or tokens are put on the student’s chart. When the points accumulate to a certain amount, the students can exchange them for a small gift.

Avoiding punishment is a welcome change for both students and teachers. There is less of a power struggle, and since students are more receptive to positive reinforcement, this method seems to yield excellent results in a school setting.

Is Positive Reinforcement Better Than Punishment?

Positive reinforcement is often better than punishment. While punishment is sometimes quick in stopping negative behavior, it doesn’t teach what appropriate behavior is. Positive reinforcement shifts the attention to acceptable behavior by rewarding it.

For example, using treats to train dogs to perform tricks works extremely well. Elementary teachers giving out gold stars for promptly completed homework also see excellent results in motivating students.

Reinforcement Schedules

Schedules of reinforcement describe the frequency of reinforcement applications and the timing between them.

In order to form a new habit, reinforcement needs to happen repeatedly. Besides continuous reinforcement schedules, there are four types of intermittent reinforcement schedules:

  • Fixed interval – fixed time period between reinforcements
  • Fixed ratio – fixed number of times
  • Variable interval – variable time period
  • Variable ratio variable – variable number of times

Schedules of reinforcement can significantly affect the effectiveness of reinforcement. For example, in casinos, slot machines give out rewards randomly. When gamblers win occasionally, they are positively reinforced with variable ratio schedules, making the game highly addictive.

The Cons of Positive Reinforcement

Even though positive reinforcement seems highly effective, this isn’t always the case.

Positive reinforcement doesn’t always bring about a positive outcome because people are not simple machines that respond and forget. The stimuli used can have other effects on people’s motivation and desire, and those effects can be long-lasting.

Here are some drawbacks of using positive reinforcement.

Decrease Intrinsic Motivation

Researchers have confirmed that positive reinforcement can weaken a person’s intrinsic behavior and lower the quality of the desired action ​1​.

Long-Term Effectiveness

When you use a positive reinforcer to motivate, you must keep providing for it to stay effective. As soon as the rewards stop, the behavior stops, too. This phenomenon is called extinction.

Ethics and Values

Perhaps the most problematic aspect of positive reinforcement is that it associates the action with the wrong stimulus. In parenting, using reinforcers can teach a child the wrong lesson.

For instance, when a child is given an allowance to do chores, they learn that they should take out the trash if, and only if, they get paid. Otherwise, it is not their responsibility.

Many parents think that this practice could teach a child about being responsible. However, instead of instilling responsibility, it teaches the child to assign a monetary value to duties and only do the work if they are paid accordingly.

Positive Reinforcement Trap

Positive reinforcement can sometimes produce unintended adverse outcomes.

For example, whenever a child acts up, the parent gives them extra attention. The child quickly learns that their misbehavior can earn them extra attention. This unintended reward becomes a positive reinforcer to the child’s misbehavior. This type of positive reinforcement trap is counterproductive.

How To Use Positive Reinforcement

Despite the many pitfalls, positive reinforcement has its value and its place. Here is how positive reinforcement can be used effectively​2​:

1. Non-tangible awards are preferred over tangible rewards

To counter the problem of rewards reducing intrinsic motivation, use verbal praise instead of tangible rewards such as toys or allowance. According to psychology studies, a verbal reward is one of the most effective ways to use positive reinforcement.

2. Offer positive feedback as a reward

Praise should provide useful feedback about the process, not just the result. Be specific and avoid just saying, “Good job.” If the child took out the trash, consider praising them with a statement like, “Thank you! You did a great job tying the trash up nice and tight.”

3. When using praises, praise for the quality of action

Praise should not be given for just completing a task. The child should have completed the job well, considering their abilities.

4. Focus on positive behavior

Instead of giving a child extra attention when they misbehave, give it when they behave well to reinforce good behavior. When a child gets enough attention from parents through regular interactions during the day, they will not need to act up to get attention.

5. Give the reinforcement as soon as the action completes

Research has shown that the sooner the reinforcer is introduced after the target behavior, the more effective it is in motivating the new behavior.

6. No contingent reinforcement

Reinforcers should be unexpected as a variable ratio schedule of reinforcement is more effective than a fixed interval schedule.

An unexpected reward is often more effective in motivating the adoption of new behaviors. If a person expects a reward, it becomes a contingency. Regularly offering contingent rewards reduces intrinsic motivation.

Also See: Reinforcement Theory of Motivation

Final Thoughts

Using positive reinforcers to motivate a child’s behavior has benefits but also problems. Positive reinforcement is highly effective when used appropriately, as parents who have potty-trained their toddlers over a weekend by giving out candies can attest.

However, at the end of the day, if the positive reinforcer is a bribe, it can backfire.

Children are smart. They will quickly figure out that if you need to use a bribe, the action probably is not something they will want to adopt in the long term. Motivating your child intrinsically instead of using extrinsic motivation is the best practice.


  1. 1.

    Cameron J, Pierce WD. Reinforcement, Reward, and Intrinsic Motivation: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research. September 1994:363-423. doi:10.3102/00346543064003363

  2. 2.

    Akin-Little KA, Eckert TL, Lovett BJ, Little SG. Extrinsic Reinforcement in the Classroom: Bribery or Best Practice. School Psychology Review. 2004;33(3):344-362.

About Pamela Li

Pamela Li is a bestselling author. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Parenting For Brain. Her educational background is in Electrical Engineering (MS, Stanford University) and Business Management (MBA, Harvard University). Learn more

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How to use positive reinforcement in a school class?


Positive reinforcement is the main approach to behavioral intervention in autism and can be used by school teachers of children with special needs

Author: Sasha Hallagan

9 The Autism Helper 9

Everyone knows that positive reinforcement is important, and everyone understands why. Whether you're a teacher in a remedial or general education classroom, positive reinforcement is what allows you to increase the frequency of desired student behavior. Positive reinforcement can be a teacher's praise, tokens, a certain amount of which can be exchanged for a reward, candy, treats, and so on. Each child is individual! Praise can be a reinforcer for many children, but not for all! For some children, praise is not an effective reward. What can be done in this case? nine0003

Conditioning praise as a reinforcer

For some children, praise is not a reinforcer. Should we just accept and forget about it? Netushki! Praise as a reinforcer is extremely important because it is a natural and ubiquitous form of reward! This is reinforcement that takes place in the real world. So if praise is not a reinforcer for your children, then you need to work on conditioning praise as a reinforcer. To do this, you must constantly combine praise with what is reinforcing for this child. For example, every time you give him a candy, an iPad, or a token as a reward, praise him at the same time! Gradually, you will be able to reduce the tangible reward until you are limited to praise! nine0003

In a classroom full of students, remembering the perfect reinforcer for everyone can be difficult! I use a laminated page on the wall for this, next to the behavioral documentation, where I can erase and mark with a marker next to each student's name what their preferences/reinforcers are. This way, everyone, including teachers, tutors and therapists, is aware of the best reinforcement to use at the moment!

Effective use of positive reinforcement for children of all ages

To use verbal praise as an effective positive reinforcement, it should be:

- Specific. Make your praise as effective as possible by specifying who you are praising and for what! “Jeremy, thanks for putting your homework in your done folder. It was just great. " Some children may not understand what more general phrases refer to, and your attempt at positive reinforcement will be in vain! nine0003

- Immediate. Start praising immediately after the desired behavior!

- Frequent. Make sure to praise every student often! The most common mistake is too little praise! Once a day is too little, keep praising all kinds of desirable behaviors to keep them!

How to make sure you're giving positive reinforcement FREQUENTLY

One of the reasons I decided to write this article is that I'm guilty of not giving enough praise. Arrest me! Eh! I'm so mad at myself. But perhaps acceptance is the first step. My excuses: I'm too busy, something always happens in the classroom, children walk on the ceiling, you can't follow the behavioral plans, the tutors got out of hand ... I know, just excuses. So I started making a conscious effort to ensure that I praise the kids enough. nine0003

How much praise is enough? There are different theories on this. I heard about 6 positive phrases per minute while working with one child. It seems to me that this is already too much and can lead to speech overload of the child. I also heard about the 4:1 ratio - for every negative comment, there should be four instances of praise. Decide for yourself what suits you. Understanding when positive reinforcement is effective is a breeze—your favorite desired behavior is maintained and increased, not diminished! nine0003

Helpful Tips

- Ask a colleague or tutor to be an observer and note each time you use praise.

- Record your own praise with a mechanical "clicker" counter.

- Make a sign on the sheet with the names of the students. Use different colored pens for each period of the day and mark your praise next to each student's name. This way you can keep track of which students you praise (and who you don’t praise at all), and at what time of the day you praise least (as it turned out, I have a hard day). This will allow you to set specific goals for yourself to work on. nine0003

- Set a goal! My goal is to increase praise during the day by 50%. In addition, it is during the day that many of my children come out with negative behavior ... a coincidence? I do not think so. Increase praise for the desired behavior and this will help reduce the frequency of the unwanted behavior.

Children against the teacher - a magic method

I don't want to exaggerate, but this method works like a magic wand. This is a game from my ABA set of tricks for managing group behavior. When I first heard about this technique from a college professor, I was not at all impressed. It seemed that the game is normal, and I decided to try it. How surprised I was! nine0003

There is something about the combination of competition and consequences for the whole group that turns out to be exactly what you need. My children become just attention personified when I resort to this trick. Seriously. Try it and let me know how it turns out!

When the professor told me about this game, it was called "You against me". I changed the title to "Kids vs. Teacher" as it was more in line with my class.

How it works:

- Make a list of class rules. I like rules that are very clearly defined and tell you exactly what you must do and what you must not do. When we use this game, we write the rules on the board. When we first started, we focused on general instructions for group work. This week and last week, I used rules that focused on specific behaviors, such as how to be a good friend and how not to annoy your friends. (We had some pretty nasty preteen issues during recess!)

- When children follow the rules, they get a point.

- When children break the rules, the teacher gets a point.

- After a certain period of time, the winner receives a special privilege. If the teacher wins, it means the kids are missing out on some fun. When I started this game, I enjoyed tangible rewards like extra breaks or cookies. Now my children only need the joy of victory. They especially like it when I'm "angry" that I lost. Being a teacher has honed my acting skills! nine0003

Helpful Hints

- When you play the first few times, make sure the kids win! Then they will quickly become addicted to the game. Without access to a win or promotion, they will have no desire to play next time.

- When children follow the class rules, make sure you comment each time what exactly you gave a point. This will help reinforce the desired behavior, such as "I really liked how Andrew gave Grace's turn."

- Get carried away with the game yourself, otherwise the children will not be carried away! nine0003

I know it sounds too simple and too good to be true. I thought so too, until I found out otherwise. This game is just a bomb, no matter how magical it is.

ABA Therapy and Behavior, Education and Training

The Power of Positive Reinforcement in the Workplace - Careers on

What is the best way to motivate employees and increase productivity?


This question worries any person holding a leadership position. There are many answers to this question, but one way or another, most leadership experts agree that positive reinforcement is the most powerful leadership tool. nine0003

When you use positive reinforcement, you focus less on what people are doing wrong and more on doing the right thing. And by encouraging and praising the team every time it performs well, you accustom it to constant success.

Example of positive reinforcement from practice

In 2006, the director of a department store branch in the region was thinking about how to get his employees to encourage customers to apply for credit cards. Due to the constant refusals of customers, the employees simply stopped even offering them. nine0003

The branch manager decided to try a positive reinforcement approach that would outweigh negative customer responses. He offered his employees a salary bonus for each credit card application processed. And every 90 days, the employee who submitted the most applications received recognition and congratulations from colleagues and a gift card.

In addition to the positive reinforcement, employees were also made clear that those filing fewer than 5 applications per month would be required to receive training to improve their performance. nine0003

As a result, employees were both motivated by positive reinforcement and training that did not allow them to relax. As a result, the Sears store became the number one credit card store in the state.

As you can see in this example, the manager has created a whole system of motivation for his employees. But positive reinforcement doesn't always have to be on this scale. A simple pat on the back or a thank you note are great examples of daily positive reinforcement. nine0003

How does positive reinforcement work?

As you saw from the example above, positive reinforcement should include some kind of “reinforcing stimulus” that is implemented after the employee performs certain actions. It is needed to increase the likelihood that these beneficial actions will be repeated in the future. And the more positive emotions a stimulus carries, the more likely it is that people will repeat beneficial actions over and over again. nine0003

This is a mutually beneficial psychological tactic that works in the name of a healthy work environment. This can help employees communicate better, work more efficiently, and work towards shared goals. But what is the right way to implement positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement examples

Let's take a look at how positive reinforcement affects business results and how it can be effectively implemented.

Give regular feedback on quality work

If you don't care about feedback for your employees, you risk putting them in a pretty stressful position. How do they know they are doing something right? How can they improve their work? What do they need to get promoted?

Regular daily feedback, personal for each employee, is not only beneficial for his psychological state and health. It may also give you the opportunity to explore whether he can be promoted or fired.

Make sure you offer opportunities for further career advancement

Nobody likes a dead end job. Also, no one likes a job in which all the possibilities of career advancement are not clear.

At the interview stage, clarify how likely the employee is to be promoted during their time with the company. Also consider how difficult or easy it is for your employees to get career opportunities at your company. In other words, are you providing them with opportunities for professional development? nine0003

Offer performance bonuses

Enter a performance bonus system. Such bonuses provide an incentive to work harder and more productively, and also encourage healthy competition among employees. If you already have a similar system, then make sure that your bonuses are really motivating. Small and uninteresting bonuses that do not tease employees have nothing to do with stimulation.

Offer a competitive salary

Salary is the main form of employee motivation. After all, the whole essence of the relationship between business and employee comes down to the fact that the employee offers his professional skills, and the company pays him for them. And this cycle continues throughout the life of the business relationship between the company and the employee.

Competitive wages are a simple but very effective way to achieve positive reinforcement in the workplace. In this way, you clearly explain to the employee why he should use his skills to develop your business, and not the business of competitors. nine0003

Organize corporate events and activities for employees

By offering social opportunities outside of the office or having fun in the workplace on more relaxed days, you will encourage employees to be productive. It can be both joint picnics, and just football after a working day. If the position includes spontaneous opportunities to meet colleagues and you can just relax in it at times, why shouldn't the employee keep this job? nine0003

Use individual positive reinforcement tactics

Everyone is different and you will never find two alike. Every person has different desires, values ​​and needs. As a result, what motivates one does not motivate another at all. Make sure that the specific reward you use for positive reinforcement stimulates each individual employee.

For example, some people are very stimulated by monetary rewards, while others prefer various corporate activities and joint holidays. nine0003

Do not link rewards and punishments

When you use both rewards and punishments at the same time, they actually cancel each other out. For example, it is common for managers to hold weekly meetings to reward employees who are doing well, and at those meetings they punish and scold employees who are not doing well. This kills the positive effect and no one benefits from such meetings. Praise in front of everyone, but scold in person. nine0003

Associate positive reinforcement with digital feedback

Positive reinforcement can work both on a digital platform and in “real life”. If you use collaboration software like Slack for your team, you can use digital incentives to get positive reinforcement.

KudosBot allows you to send praise to employees who are doing especially well. You can also purchase a variety of goal tracking services or visual graphical tools for positive reinforcement online. nine0003

Give your employees the opportunity to speak their minds

Sometimes positive reinforcement can be painfully simple, like giving your employees the opportunity to have their say on various work issues. It is true that management and leaders within a company have a greater voice and can make more important decisions. However, your non-management team members are not just little workhorses. They know the subtleties and aspects of their work that you and other senior managers can often simply miss. nine0003

Give your employees the opportunity to express their opinions and thoughts on various aspects of the company's work, and go out of your way to ask for it.

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